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Today's word on journalism

Monday, September 3, 2007

"I've always been all over the lot in my writing. Except for poetry -- even though they say all the old-time sportswriters use plenty of it. Maybe it's just part of what we do."

--Frank DeFord, 2006

Cache planners hear how Virginia handled highway reconstruction

By Miriah Griffith

CACHE COUNTY -- The Cache Metropolitan Planning Organization heard from a guest speaker from Charlottesville, Va., at its monthly meeting Monday night.

Traffic Engineer Lee Ward presented a PowerPoint lecture on the struggles and solutions he faced when designing U.S. Highway 29. He was invited to speak to the council because the challenges of U.S. 29 are similar to those now faced with the construction on U.S. 91 in Cache County.

"I think it's useful for us to see that other places have faced challenges," said Transportation Planner Jeff Gilbert. "We're not alone."

Ward, who has a master's degree in civil engineering, focused a large part of his presentation on quality of life.

He said it's important for the council and planning engineers to build around the character of the community, including cemeteries, biking/walking paths, facilities and geologic resources.

Ward also said that focusing on community needs is a large part of transportation planning. People traveling through the area on the highway aren't the major contributors to traffic congestion.

"We found (in the research in Virginia) that regional through trips are only 12 percent . . . and we're agonizing over it! We're missing the bigger picture."

Ward encouraged council members to make sure any new street development is garnished with trees, flowers and shrubbery. It will improve the community feel and overall quality of life of the citizens, he said.

Designs that included these elements were very well accepted by those communities Ward presented to.

"They basically said, 'If we could make our community look like that . . . that would be great,'" he said.

Executive Director Jim Gass voiced concern about resistance from the Utah Highway Department.

"Normally, the State Highway Department's goal is to move the traffic through," Gass said. "Not build atmosphere."

He also said he worried that roads would not have the same capacity as they did before if Ward's designs were followed.

The council did not take any formal action at the meeting.


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