Options to make Power Plant Road safer should be considered and implemented
Flattening a dangerous and hilly road east of Mt. Pleasant should be given priority for safety reasons.
In May 2019, three teenagers lost their lives in an auto collision on the Power Plant Road, about 5 miles east of Mt. Pleasant. A contributing factor may have been a hill in the road which extends about two blocks, and limits vision for traffic. Vern Fisher, a grandfather of one of the teenagers, approached Sanpete County at a recent meeting, asking if anything could be done to make the road safer.
The commissioners pledged to study the idea and any other ideas that would make roads safer, and are approaching UDOT and the Utah Highway Patrol to investigate. County Commissioner Chairman Scott Bartholomew said although UDOT does not have jurisdiction over that road, it does have the resources to do a study on the problem, and the commissioners would probably follow that recommendation, whatever it ends up being.
Mt. Pleasant City is about 1 year into a $15 million 3-year watershed storage project that, among other things, would build a storage tank in the same upper drainage basin that is near that section of the road. In fact, that section of road is part of the upper drainage basin that was built in the 40s, but no longer serves that purpose. The watershed project is being funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS).
Fisher has asked if the fill from flattening the road could be used in the watershed project.
We wonder the same thing, or something similar.
It would take some work to pull it off. Red tape might have to fly. The NRCS would have to modify their plans to incorporate the added project. The county has the responsibility for the roads, and would have to probably fund a portion of the road repairs. Finally, it will still be a couple of years before the NRCS project is completed, and a short-term solution might need to be found until then.
Mt. Pleasant Mayor Dan Anderson said over the years, warning signs have been erected, but they have been taken down by vandals. Even if normal signs haven’t survived, surely a steel sign set in concrete on each side of the hill would survive any vandals.
Likewise, rumble strips might help, but would probably have to be removed during the winter so the roads could be plowed. Finally, if the county commissioners agreed and the safety need was strong enough, a temporary road diversion around the hill might work, until a longer-term solution can be found.
Norm Evenstad, the public relations specialist with the NRCS, said the watershed project still had a year to go for environmental studies, and the design phase could probably accommodate the road project, but even so, that project is still two or three years away.
Considering that lives have been lost, discussions should move forward quickly. We remember when Emily Bingham was killed on U.S. 89 between Manti and Ephraim, and UDOT responded by adding a turn lane and widening the road between Ephraim and Manti.
We think the possibility of saving lives makes this a good time to find a short-term, and long-term solution.