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Murray Journal

Street realignment to impact Murray downtown neighborhoods

Aug 17, 2018 02:37PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Map showing artist concepts of Box Elder and Hanauer Streets as one-way streets. (Photo courtesy Murray City)

By Shaun Delliskave | s.delliskave@mycityjournals.com

As Murray plans to relocate the 4800 South fire station, the former lot will make way for new street realignments for the downtown Murray City Center District (MCCD). Neighborhoods that are served by Box Elder and Hanauer Streets will be impacted by new traffic patterns.

Since the mid-1970s, the city has planned to connect Main Street at 4500 South to 300 West at Winchester Street (6400 South). The purpose is to provide another north/south corridor through Murray City to reduce congestion. Currently, the only north/south corridors east of the I-15 frontage roads are State Street and 900 East.

The city has completed several phases of this project over the past 20 years, including environmental clearance from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), because the city plans to use federal funds for portions of this project. The city also completed projects to realign 300 West at Winchester Street and made intersection improvements at 5900 South and 300 West.

The Hanauer Street project is another phase of this project between Vine Street and 4800 South. Future plans include reconstruction between Vine Street and 4500 South. The extension is part of the same 2004 project that built the overpass from Cottonwood Street over 5300 South to 300 West. That overpass cost $17 million, of which $14.5 million was paid for by the federal government.

Brent Barnett, whose family trust owns property on Vine Street, stated, “In March 2011 the city put in place a rigorous plan for making all the MCCD area a walkable area. In my view, the MCCD isn't perfect, but it is a move in the right direction that will make the downtown an interesting place. My problem is that this grand traffic corridor was proposed before the idea of a walkable downtown was started.”

Box Elder and Hanauer Streets, north of 4800 South, are residential streets. The city plans to turn both streets into a one-way couplet, with Box Elder becoming a southbound street and Hanauer becoming a northbound street. Both streets will merge together south of the 4500 South and Main Street intersection.

According to Doug Hill, Murray City’s chief administrative officer, “During the environmental clearance process, the city desired to minimize the impact on residential and historic properties between Vine Street and 4500 South. The result was a plan to use two existing roads, Hanauer and Box Elder, to create a one-way couplet. Eventually, Poplar Street will likely be eliminated, providing more land for development between Hanauer Street and State Street.”

Barnett feels that this will have a negative impact. “It turns the quiet neighborhood street of Hanauer Street into a busy thoroughfare with no thought for the residents. The proposed road charges right through the center of the MCCD area, dividing it with traffic and making walkability dubious.”

The project has already been funded. The city applied for and received a grant ($1.5 million) from Salt Lake County. The county was awarded these transportation funds authorized by Senate Bill 277 by the state legislature during the 2017 session.

The Murray Mansion and Murray Chapel will not be impacted by the new Hanauer Street configuration. The only existing structure impacted by Hanauer Street is the fire station. Some city plans indicate that several homes on Box Elder will need to be acquired and torn down to reconfigure the street near 4500 South.

“As a city, we are plunging forward without a clear master site plan for the downtown.  Everything is piecemeal, and that doesn't usually end well,” remarked Barnett. “The master site plan is simply a mess. It has never really been agreed on.”