Murray’s long and winding road construction project nears completionJul 01, 2022 09:25AM ● By Shaun Delliskave
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
Vine Street is one of Murray’s longest distance roads; it’s also been under reconstruction for the most extended amount of time. After several years of design and construction, crews plan to wrap up the complete makeover of one of Murray’s oldest roads this fall.
Murray City manages and implements the Vine Street project, developed over a decade ago by the Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC). According to its website, WFRC “builds consensus and enhances the quality of life by developing and implementing visions and plans for a well-functioning multi-modal transportation system, livable communities, a strong economy, and a healthy environment.”
WFRC comprises members of Utah’s Department of Transportation, state legislators, county government leaders, and other transportation entities. Every four years, the WFRC prepares and adopts a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), a Wasatch Choice Regional Vision component. WFRC adopted the current 2019-2050 RTP in May 2019.
For Vine Street, planners determined to improve the road by providing continuous sidewalks, bike lanes, a center turn lane, upgraded utilities, roadway shoulders, an improved drainage system, and new roadway surfaces.
Initially, the road grew out of a trail in the 1800s. Later pioneers hauled granite from the canyons down the road en route to the Salt Lake Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple; a rest site was recognized near today’s Murray Cemetery. The winding nature of the road earned it the name Vine Street.
Some parts of the road have never had formal sidewalks, an issue for students attending Woodstock Elementary and Cottonwood High School. Pedestrians have needed to negotiate an irrigation ditch and trees that push walking onto the shoulder of the road, notably between the Canal Trail entrance and 1830 East. As developers have added subdivisions in the later part of the 20th century, piecemeal sidewalks were added along the road.
Vine Street’s remodel was broken down into two phases. Phase one consisted of improving the street from 900 East to 1300 East. Phase two consisted of the longest stretch from 1300 East to the Van Winkle Expressway.
The project has not been without controversy. Phase one, completed in 2019, required right-of-way land acquisition and removal of old-growth trees. Some residents in the phase two area organized a petition to prevent the project from continuing eastward.
With 1,100 signatures, the petition claimed that “Federal and state tax funds, distributed by the Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC), awarded grants of approximately $10 million to Murray City to increase the width of Vine Street from 900 East to Highland Drive without citizen input required by NEPA, the National Environment Protection Act.”
Murray City did conduct open houses in 2017 and addressed the issue in the city council meeting held on August 22, 2017, where opposition was stated in the public record. In addition, the city has discussed, in several city council meetings, the addition of sidewalks, curb and gutter to that section of road as far back as 2015.
Murray City, in 2020, conducted a survey of residents about concerns and design preferences for the project. In total, 199 survey responses were collected; most respondents live in a neighborhood that has access off of Vine Street between 1300 East and Van Winkle Expressway.
For driving, the survey found that the respondents were satisfied with the safety of driving between 1300 East and Van Winkle Expressway. However, most responded that they were dissatisfied with the level of safety of walking and biking along the route.
The survey also determined that continuous sidewalks were the highest priority regarding the project, significantly over tree-lined streets and on-street parking. Survey participants could also choose which design was preferable between 74-foot, 70-foot, and 68-foot road widths.
According to the survey, “Almost 50% of respondents chose the 68-foot corridor width design as their first preference for the design of this project. Most comments from respondents who chose Option 3 stated that this was the best combination of creating a safer road while also being the least intrusive to adjacent properties.”
Without any unforeseen delays, paving the road is expected to be completed through the fall.