Published on March 21st, 2017 | by UC&D Magazine0
SL County Municipal Outlook February 2017
Salt Lake County Bracing for Flurry of Key Infrastructure Projects in ‘17
Keeping up with municipal projects is always a concern in Salt Lake County, and 2017 is already shaping up as a busy year.
There are at least 73 projects currently under way or planned for the year in relation to engineering for flood control and public works improvements encompassing both unincorporated communities and those comprising the Metro Townships (Kearns, Magna, White City, Emigration Canyon and Copperton).
As might be expected, there is always a give and take when it comes to projects under advisement and available funding to bring them to fruition.
“There are always more projects than available funding,” said Scott R. Baird, acting director of the Public Works Department for
Salt Lake County, “and the communities we serve, through their elected officials, have to make decisions that will affect the amount of taxes and funding.”
Money for Salt Lake County municipal projects comes from a variety of sources, Baird said. Flood Control funding is derived from a county-wide property tax levy, which can be adjusted by a tax increase or by changing the tax rate. Flood Control oversight also encompasses water quality and watershed management, which regularly benefits from both state and federal grants.
“Municipal Services funding comes primarily from sales tax generated within the unincorporated areas of the county and within the new Metro Townships,” Baird said. “The only ability to increase this source of funding would be through a sales tax rate increase.”
Municipal Services funding for Class B and C roads is also generated from the state gas tax. “These areas also receive state and federal money through Wasatch Front Regional Council and a variety of partnership opportunities,” Baird said.
The current Metro Township model for overseeing municipal projects in Salt Lake County was created in 2015. In that November’s election, residents in six townships voted under SB199 whether to remain as a township or become an incorporated city. The aforementioned five opted to join the Metro Township, while Millcreek residents voted to become a city. The ramifications of that decision are still in flux.
“Our budget is about the same (as for 2016), although much of the decision making for funding on the municipal services side of our operation has shifted to the Metro Townships,” Baird said. “Also, with the incorporation of Millcreek City, the new city will have to decide which of our services they want to continue to pay for, and this will affect our budget.”
Baird said that overall, roads in the unincorporated areas of the county and the Metro Townships are in good condition, but noted that future funding could become an issue as streets continue to decline.
Another concern is that some pipelines – whose durability can be affected by the type of material they are made of – are wearing out and need to be replaced.
“Whenever possible, regular maintenance practices should be applied to all infrastructure,” Baird said. “Regular maintenance and upkeep saves money in the end and is a better option, in the long run, than total replacement of a failed system.”
The following is a closer look at some of the biggest Salt Lake County municipal projects in both the Flood Control and Public Works areas for 2017.
Based on the criteria of cost, scope and importance, these five projects stand out, according to John E. Miller, Associate Director of Public Engineering for Salt Lake County.
7200 West Bridge at USL Canal:
“The existing bridge is failing,” Miller said. “Weight restrictions have been put in place for a couple years, and traffic has been shifted to extend life.”
Project cost is estimated at $1.2 million
8400 West Pedestrian Overpass:
This project is designed to increase safety for school children and pedestrians who walk along the U-111 corridor between the canal and 3500 South. “A study is currently under way to determine what traffic calming measure would be most impactful to slowing down the speed along the corridor and balancing the needs of a growing community,” Miller said.
Cost is estimated at $2.6 million.
900 East – 3900 South to 4500 South(Shoulder Mill and Fill):
Construction continues along 900 East, which was reconstructed between 3300 South and 3900 South last year. “There is an opportunity to use this project funding to reconstruct this south section of 900 East should our grant application be successful,” Miller said, noting that funding would be used for matching funds to federal funds. “If selected, 900 East will be a complete street across Millcreek.”
Cost is estimated at $150,000.
10000 South 2700 East Safety Improvements:
According to Miller, the growth in this area and surrounding neighborhoods has increased the need for safety upgrades along that road. “A sidewalk and multi-use path are being looked at as ways to improve safety for pedestrians and recreationists trying to get to nearby parks,” Miller said. “Minor road widening to create a consistent roadway section is also being looked at.”
The estimated cost is $780,000.
Twilight Drive Bike Boulevard:
“This active transportation project is an important connection for bicycle movement through Kearns,” Miller said. “Additional traffic calming measures are being looked into to help keep speeds at or near the posted speed limits.”
The cost estimate for this project is $243,000.
According to Lizel K. Allen, Flood Control Project Manager for Salt Lake County, the following four projects highlight the department’s plans for 2017.
Emigration Creek Debris Grate at Wilson Avenue:
This project was unexpected, said Allen, and funding was not requested in advance to design and construct it for the 2016 budget year. A rain event in early 2016 caused debris to back up on the existing culvert, forcing Emigration Creek to overtop the road at Wilson Avenue. The department requested a budget adjustment to study and design infrastructure to address the problem.
“We were able to design, bid and we are currently constructing this project all within one year,” Allen said.
Construction costs are estimated at just more than $231,000.
5400 South Storm Drain Replacement:
The 5400 South storm drain is about 3.5 miles long, and carries storm water to the Jordan River.
“The portion of this system between Redwood Road and the Jordan River was undersized and failing due to the deteriorating corrugated metal pipe,” Allen said. “A few years ago a relatively significant rain event hit this area and caused a portion of this system to fail and flood an adjacent neighborhood.”
The portion in question is just under a mile in length, Allen said, and various design issues led the project to be broken
up into four phases. Many of the phases deal with replacing 66-inch corrugated metal pipe with 72-inch reinforced concrete pipe.
The combined cost of the four phases is estimated at just over $2.6 million.
Coon Creek Harker Creek Storm Drain:
The existing storm drain pipes are currently undersized and the alignment is in private property, making it difficult to maintain, Allen said. The proposed storm drain will increase capacity and the new alignment is in the public right of way, allowing easier access for flood control maintenance.
Total construction cost is nearly $1.1 million.
Highland Circle Debris Grate on Big Cottonwood Creek:
This project is similar in scope to that at the Emigration Creek Debris Grate at Wilson Avenue.
“They are both existing debris gates with flooding concerns,” Allen said. “The goal of the grate redesign and construction is to alleviate flooding at the two locations. Residential properties downstream of the Highland Circle Debris Grate have experienced flooding due to debris backing up and the creek overtopping the culvert.”
Total construction cost was bid at $147,555.