MAIN STREET INFORMATION MEETING • Last week UDOT held an information meeting and gave the design team suggestions and ideas on improving Nephi's Main Street in the future.
By Mryna Trauntvein
At the Main Street Project open house held last Wednesday, townspeople offered comments and suggestions to the design engineers present.
The open house was held in the Juab County Senior Citizen Center where maps of the project area had been laid on tables and photos of the project area, from 200 South to 200 North, had been posted. There were also photos of other cities who had streetscape beautification projects.
Present were Doug Bassett, UDOT Region 3 Project Manager; Tom Hart, Civil Engineer with Horrocks Engineers, Inc, Pleasant Grove; Josh Wagstaff, Drainage Engineer with Horrocks; Valerie Mortimer, Horrocks Communications Specialist with Horrocks; and Alex Hart, with H.P. Landscape Architects, subcontractors.
"The hope is that this project will send Nephi City in a good direction for years to come," said A. Hart.
UDOT will consider an overall plan to make improvements to the roadway. storm drainage, pavement, signage, and lighting. It will also address ways to beautify the street including ways to improve store fronts, plantings and the sides of streets.
The elements are interconnected.
Bassett said that the design team has been charged to come up with a concept plan, design ideas and cost estimates.
"Horrocks Engineers, Inc., is under contract with us," said Bassett.
Many of the 50 or so attending, stuck little yellow post it ,notes with comments they had made on maps. Those comments will now be considered, said Bassett.
One of the photos taken by Horrocks along Main Street showed one vacant space where a building used to be. It now is weedy and has a couple of cars parked there. That is one example of what a streetscape plan can do for a community, said A. Hart.
"It can eliminate this problem. Once a plan is in place," he said, "the city will be able to say, 'This is what we do when a building comes down.'"
A streetscape plan is a community-based planning process to identify improvements to streets, sidewalks and public spaces.
Several interesting comments had been received, said A. Hart. Among those were questions of how far reaching the project, designed just for historic Main Street at present, could become.
"How about the farther stretch of Main Street?" asked Daniel Peel, Choice Hardware owner.
His business is located at 1005 North Main, a long distance from the project area.
Nevertheless, said A. Hart, the plan for the downtown area could be expanded by the city as far as streetscape design in coming years. For now, the design team is concerning itself with the downtown area.
One problem near Peel's business, is a ditch just in front of the grocery store where folks can get off the drive used as an entrance and exit and end up in the ditch. The problem occurs on a fairly regular basis.
"That ditch used to go to the fields located north of Nephi," said Mark Jones, mayor.
The water carried in the ditch began its course by the city golf course and then continued west through Nephi traveling until it reached the ditch in the market area.
While UDOT owns the street, the irrigation company owns the ditch right of way and they would need to be the entity to cover the ditch or to fill it with a pipe. Currently it serves as storm water drainage but not as an irrigation ditch.
Jones said that the roadway in the center of Main is higher than it should be and could stand to be lowered. Over the years, UDOT had added layers of asphalt as the road was resurfaced resulting in a high center which contributes to storm water drainage problems.
There are many projects which could enhance the downtown area said A. Hart.
Don Ball, resident, said he would like to see more crosswalks on all of Main Street.
A. Hart said that pedestrian safety might be one project that would call for a narrowing of the roadway just at the corners. Plantings could be added and the walkway brought out to the edge of the parking spots along the street. That would result in a curved corner just at the edge of each block.
"Snow removal does become more of a challenge," he said.
However, that did not seem to be a problem in communities where the design had been adopted.
One of the places Horrocks featured was Odgen, Utah. The streetscape shown in the photos reflected many of the ideas that Nephi residents were asked to comment about.
For example, said A. Hart, the street signs along Main might be changed to reflect the historic character of the street. Ogden had done that, he said.
Street lights might be made to be more of a design element along the street. They might be of an historic nature, as well. Some look like the gas globe lights of yesteryear.
"The street lights we (Nephi) have at corners are designed for intersection safety," said Randy McKnight, city administrator.
Lamposts in the designs shown by the engineering firm were more of the ambient, gentle style that lights the way for pedestrians to stroll.
There will likely not be any suggestions made from the design team that would make parking in the center of the street as is done in Provo.
Main Street in Nephi is part of the UDOT highway system.
"UDOT is reluctant to add anything unsafe," said A. Hart.
Some design elements for the sides of Main were that bricks be used to edge the concrete walkways, and planting areas be added to the edge of the street. Those plantings could act as drainage from the street where water would gather in the planters and water the flowers.
The overflow would go into a covered ditch system.
"Nephi could play up the Mt. Nebo Scenic Byway," said A. Hart. "There is only one place in the city where there is information about it."
The latest in design elements also was that the new buildings added to the street might put the parking in the back of the building and bring the storefront to the edge of the walkway to be consistent with the existing storefronts.
"One item that a lot of the people have liked is the way the backs of stores have been improved by some communities," said A. Hart.
He said the photos showed spaces that had been made into attractive lead-ins for the businesses.
The goal of the Main Street Project is to re-imagine the area.
"It does take time to make changes," said A. Hart.