A Primer on Transportation Planning and Funding

A discussion has started on Facebook and I wanted to reach a wider audience with a response because I feel it is important information for residents to know.

Road planning and funding comes from three sources. Each planning and funding source is specific to the type of the road. The cost required to improve and maintain transportation assets typically has a close correlation to the size of the asset. I’ll explain in greater detail, but the concept can be seen in the fact that Eagle Mountain doesn’t maintain I-15 and UDOT doesn’t maintain our residential city streets.

The three authorities are:

  1. UDOT
  2. Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG)
  3. the Municipality (Eagle Mountain City)

There are State roads like Cory Wride Highway or I-15. Projects on these transportation assets are funded directly through UDOT using the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) to prioritize projects. As per UDOT’s website, “The STIP is UDOT’s official work plan for the development of projects through conception, environmental studies, right of way acquisition, planning and advertising for construction for all sources of funds.” The STIP is a 5 year plan and projects on that plan are often many tens of millions.

The next authority, which is where Pony Express lies, is MAG. MAG is a Metropolitan Planning Organization or MPO. There are 4 MPO’s that break the state up into regions. The MPO’s have many responsibilities, but for our purposes, one of the responsibilities is to organize and plan and administer the funding for regional transportation projects within their area. MAG covers Summit, Utah, and Wasatch Counties. Here again, the MPO does not have responsibility for I-15 or for City residential streets. They lie somewhere in the middle as a rule of thumb. They are responsible for the Regional Transportation Plan which covers “regionally significant” transportation infrastructure. Pony Express Boulevard falls under this category. Funding for MAG’s projects come from a combination of State, County and local funds. UDOT maintains oversight over the MPO’s planning and funding, but the regions are better suited to know exactly what is going on within the smaller scale (but still quite large) of their regions and counties. MAG formulates a Regional Transportation Plan for this purpose. It is very interesting and you can take a look at it HERE. you can view the long range prioritization of funding for identified projects HERE. A word of caution… This plan is not the full breakdown of projects. Many of those identified projects are broken down further as will be the case with Pony Express Blvd. Pony Express Blvd. will be widened to three lanes with bike lanes from Porters Crossing to the EM/SS border in 2016. The center turn lane will provide relief for left hand movements which is the primary reason for traffic delays along that road.

Lastly, Eagle Mountain City is responsible for building local roads as well as road maintenence. This includes roads that exist solely within the boundaries of our City and are not deemed to be regionally significant. Residential roads and roads like Ranches Parkway are included in this list. Additionally, the City is responsible for maintenance on the roads within the borders of the City, though we can request funding through MAG for major maintenance projects as needed. All cities within the MPO’s region are competing for the same limited transportation dollars however, and so most often the funds go towards new road construction, widening, and road rehabilitation projects. Transportation is one of Eagle Mountain’s biggest challenges. Because of this, we hired TransPlan last year to complete Eagle Mountains Master Transportation Plan which is nearly complete. We have also mapped and logged every mile of road, curb, gutter, and sidewalk within Eagle Mountain last year. The purpose behind these efforts is to make certain that our transportation infrastructure will stand up to the tremendous strain of our rapid growth. We fell behind on road maintenance many years ago and we made huge efforts to reverse that trend last year with the mill and fill and chip seal projects on Pony Express Blvd and Ranches Parkway. We hope to complete the remaining section of EM Blvd with a mill and fill project this year. Beyond our local roads, I have spent a considerable amount of time advocating for Eagle Mountain’s transportation needs to both MAG and to UDOT. I hold monthly meetings with UDOT’s Region 3 director, and I have monthly meetings with MAG’s Regional Planning Committee on which I serve.

Why don”t we complete more road projects and complete them faster? I think this is the main question on everyones mind. It is simply a matter of money. This year the legislature passed two transportation funding bills which will help fund transportation projects at all levels moving forward. This was greatly needed as almost every City was self funding road projects not out of the B and C road funds, but out of the General Fund (which comes from sales tax and property tax). In conclusion, we continue to work hard to maximize every dollar invested in transportation, and we will continue to advocate for our great need of further investment in regionally significant roads that run through Eagle Mountain. We have made tremendous progress and will continue to do so.

7 thoughts on “A Primer on Transportation Planning and Funding

  1. Someone asked the following question:

    Is there a reason why developers that are building homes cannot help with this cost when they are building homes in our city? A good example are the homes going in behind Hidden Hollow Elementary. I wonder if developers should plan on helping financially with road expansion when adding new developments. It would be very helpful if they helped expand the roads leading to the new homes they build. Is this possible?

    The reply was this:
    That is a good question. The answer is that they do help pay for the expansion of the transportation infrastructure. We keep a very detailed forecast of transportation infrastructure needs and the cost of those projects are built into our “Impact Fee Facilities Plan”. Basically the developers pay for their developments known impact on the system. With some infrastructure however, the funding comes from different sources as is the case with Pony Express. County and State funds will pay for the widening of Pony Express. (30 Million) As this significant project is many times the City’s annual operating budget, we could never bear the burden of the cost. While Pony Express may seem like a road specific only to Eagle Mountain, it is designated as regionally significant because it serves cross traffic between us and Saratoga Springs. To use an extreme example, the same is true of I-15. Developers don’t pay directly for I-15 projects, even though their development will have an impact on it. It’s the same concept with Pony Express, just on a smaller Scale. With other roads that don’t connect to other cities however, developers absolutely pay their fair share. They do that through impact fees. Hope that helps.

  2. I have several questions the first is when they did the chip seal and the mill and repave on Pony Express last year the 2 projects did not meet up. The mill and repave was from about Ranches parkway and east and the chip seal was from about sandpiper road west leaving about a 3 mile stretch of Pony Express that is still in bad condition.
    This is more of a comment but I would still appreciate a response. It seems like poor planing to me to have most of the major roads through out the city to have only a 35 mph speed limit and no dedicated turn lanes. Also why don’t city planers or others that design them make straight roads anymore? It seems like most of the time roads built in our city rather than run straight curve back and forth some is obvious to get around the mountain but others seem like it was just a whim.

    • Ken, good questions. The answer about the maintenance is a question of 2 factors. Time and money. Time was an issue because the length of the mill and fill and the time available to complete road projects would have been a tight squeeze. The bigger issue is the effect on the budget. While major projects such as widening of regionally significant roads (such as Pony Express) are funded by county and state funds, the City is mostly responsible for maintenance. I also would have preferred to complete the entire project last year. The remaining section of Pony Express should be completed this year as a mill and fill project. As far as the roads, and their circuitous nature, it is a result of the master planned community being more closely akin to what you would find in other parts of the country that do not have a “grid system”. I believe this layout is an attempt to give each neighborhood a distinct identity and personality. Such is less effective under a grid system.

  3. Mayor Pengra-
    I know this question does not pertain to the roadway post, but I don’t have a Facebook to express my opinions. I live in Silverlake and recently heard that the city council has approved the building of town homes in our area along the border of Saratoga Springs. As citizens of Eagle Mountain do we have a say in this? What can we do to let the city know we would not like this to happen in our area? Many of us have spoken amongst each other and are unhappy with this new development. Please reply as soon as possible.
    Thank you,

    • Amanda,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I’ll do my best to address your concerns, but if you want additional detail, I’m always happy to talk over the phone. My cell is 801-564-9342. First, I want to say that a successful community includes various housing types. From higher density to large acreage estates. City planning typically includes specific areas for all densities. Certainly, Eagle Mountain is no exception. When a developer approaches the city with a plan for their land, great care is taken to make sure that the plan fits within the designated land use. We also make sure that their proposed building plan meets the many various sections of the City’s development code. The developer typically enters into a long term agreement called a Master Developlment Agreement which protects both the developer and the City by clearly defining expectations and secures the developers “vested rights”. While it is in reality, quite a bit more complicated than this, that is the short form explanation. For the development you are referring to, the developer had vested rights for higher density housing which were secured many years ago. There were a number of circumstances that changed the exact layout of the development such as the fact that the school district had a policy that prevented the purchase of the land the developer had marked for a school site. As a result the layout moved a bit. There were other changes and reasons, but ultimately, the developer has the right to build higher density units in that area. To answer your other question, yes, there is something you can do about it. You can attend planning commission and city council meetings to make your concerns known. It is always useful for the decision making bodies to hear your concerns and also for the developer to hear your concerns. We always try to find win/win solutions on the layout of developments, especially when residents have concerns. Having said that, we can only require what is written in our code, every concession beyond that would be on the developer. Most developers in Eagle Mountain are good about making reasonable accommodations to please all parties. At the end of the day, the bottom line will guide decisions. Developers can’t sell their housing units for a loss and the level of accommodation will depend on their margins. It is still good to let them know of your concerns however.

      If you are asking “how can we get the developer to put in larger units with lower density?” The answer is that you can’t. They have an agreement that allows them to do so. City Council will approve portions of thatprocess, but the density was approved many years ago. I hope that is helpful.

  4. Thank you, Mayor Pengra. I always appreciate the thorough and articulate information you provide. Keep up the good work 🙂

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