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(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) A biker makes her way down Millcreek Canyon's narrow shoulder Tuesday August 12, 2014. Salt Lake County is shifting $300,000 within its budget to make biking safer in Millcreek Canyon.
County invests $300K in Mill Creek bike lane
Road safety » S.L. County Council earmarks $300K for engineering and design of an uphill bicycle lane.
First Published Aug 12 2014 07:03 pm • Last Updated Aug 13 2014 02:17 pm

Bicycle-safety improvements are coming to Mill Creek Canyon.

The Salt Lake County Council reallocated $300,000 in unspent bicycle funding to initiate engineering and design work for establishing an uphill cycling lane in the popular canyon off the county’s east bench.

At a glance

Annexation hearing

A public hearing on the proposed annexation of the Olympus Hills subdivision into Holladay will be held by the Salt Lake County Council at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Skyline High School, 3251 E. 3760 South.

The neighborhood-driven proposal involves about 3,600 residents in an area between 3900 South and 4500 South from 2700 East to Interstate 215.

The petition process has advanced through multiple steps leading up to this hearing. Most recently, a mediating Boundary Commission created after the county protested the annexation voted unanimously to support the annexation — including its County Council members.

That vote followed a financial study that showed the annexation would have minimal tax impacts for existing Holladay residents as well as remaining unincorporated-area residents.

If the County Council signs off on the annexation, the Holladay City Council will hold another public hearing before final approval.

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That was one of the recommendations of a 2012 transportation feasibility study of Mill Creek Canyon conducted for the county and the U.S. Forest Service, which oversees most of the canyon terrain.

The feasibility study estimated it would cost $678,000 to create an uphill lane from the Forest Service toll booth at the canyon mouth to Box Elder picnic area.

"Now we’ll begin the design and, hopefully, get additional money to finish construction next year," said county transportation engineer Andrea Pullos.

The feasibility study noted that "road cycling is an ideal activity to encourage in Mill Creek Canyon since it represents a way for people to utilize public lands."

Its length and grades are doable for a range of riders, providing public recreation without producing pollution and taking up parking spaces, added the report by the consulting firm Fehr and Peers.

Even though there is less vehicular traffic in Mill Creek than the Cottonwood canyons, the report said roadway conflicts among vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians are a recurring problem.

Establishing an uphill bike lane was the top recommendation for lessening those conflicts. The report suggested wider shoulders could be paved in numerous areas — as was done in Big Cottonwood — particularly in steep sections and around corners.

Other recommended improvements were markings in the downhill lane that showed areas where cyclists could take the whole travel lane and other areas where they were supposed to stay to the right and share the lane with vehicles.

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How many stretches of roadway are expanded depends on the engineering studies, Pullos said.

mikeg@sltrib.com Twitter:@sltribmikeg

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