Bypass & Traffic

On June 7, the Utah Department of Transportation announced 5 "preferred" plans for a Heber Valley bypass. All of the routes are on the west side of Heber and they all call for the destruction of homes and land. Two of the routes, WB3 and WB4, go straight through the North Fields, starting at River Road.

 

Along with Heber Mayor Heidi Franco, the Wasatch County Council (whose resolutions against the proposals can be read here and here), other organizations such as Summit Land Conservancy, and elected officials, Friends of Heber Valley opposes the construction of a highway through the North Fields. WB3 and WB4 should be eliminated from consideration!

 

Public comment is only being accepted through July 22nd!

Click here to use our suggestions for your comment.

Send your comments to hebervalleyeis@utah.gov

Visit hebervalleyeis.udot.utah.gov for more info.

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The number one desire of citizens who helped create "Envision Heber 2050" was to preserve open space and Heber's rural character.

In spite of this, alternatives WB3 and WB4:

  • Disrupt our agricultural lands and the livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers.

  • Destroy Heber Valley's wetlands, animals, and plants.

  • Open the door to intense development pressure in the North Fields.

  • Create multiple threats to the Provo River and its Restoration Corridor, and a grave threat to Heber Valley's Class 1A Aquifer.

  • Attempt to force traffic off of Main Street and remove all diesels, which will be nearly impossible as most traffic is local.

  • Put the $10 million Open Space Bond passed by Wasatch County Voters in limbo, potentially never to be used.

This is not just for residents of Heber City. UDOT needs to hear from every concerned citizen. Everyone's voice matters!

Get in touch with us at 435-315-2397 or friendsofhebervalley@gmail.com

Pollution and Traffic

We need clean water, clean air, and traffic management. Vigilance over these issues is more important than ever.  Have ALL NECESSARY STUDIES been done to allow the population of this Valley to double or triple while maintaining its environment so it is a healthy place for people to live?

The Provo River is in grave danger of irreversible pollution from the stormwater runoff which will come from these developments.

Open Space​

Preserving open space was the number one concern of citizens who helped create "Envision Heber 2050."  

We believe that the Heber citizens meant green, open space. When developers say they are including "open space" (perhaps around 30%) in their plans, their definition of open space includes roads, parking lots, strips of grass between apartment buildings, and in the case of the Highlands, a 1000-seat amphitheater.  What does this do to maintain the beloved atmosphere of Heber Valley?  

The North Fields are the jewels of Heber Valley and the link to its rural heritage. The North

Fields are to be protected, according to the citizens who created Envision Heber 2050.

As you can see from the graph above (from Envision Heber 2050) over 95% of the citizens called for conservation of the North Fields, while only 4.39% felt there was no need.

Because the City is situating a large portion of its population growth "across" Highway 40,  this does not mean this growth will not seriously change and damage the  North Fields.  

 

During City Council meetings in 2020, Heber City entertained annexing properties WEST of Highway 40 (in the historic North Fields), and seriously considered developers' plans to collect stormwater from the NVOZ for ultimate discharge into streams of the North Fields and/or the pristine Provo River. 

 Importantly, developers may buy up irrigation water traditionally used in the North Fields

 to provide water for these massive developments being considered by Heber City.  This

 would result in the drying up of the North Fields and paving the way for development to follow.  

Finally, the City may push for traffic bypass roads to go through the North Fields in order to handle the vastly increased amount of traffic.

Learn more about the severe threat the bypass poses to the Provo River's natural function:
Analysis of master’s thesis of Randy Ray Goetz.

 


This thesis measured whether the Provo River Restoration Project (PRRP) that was mandated
by congressional action (1992) in accordance with the National Environmental Protection Act
(NEPA) met some of its design features. Of interest to a potential North Fields Bypass Road,
was his analyses of whether the “hyporheic zone” of the Provo River was increased by the
restoration.


The hyporheic zone (HZ) of a stream extends to a depth of over 4 meters beneath the stream
and to widths of at least 50 meters either side of the stream. In this zone, organisms from the
stream inhabit subsurface water, living in spaces in porous substratum. (Page 7). The HZ is
crucial to the ecology of the stream (Page 9).
Beginning on page 74, Mr. Goetz, reports his studies on the effect of PRRP on the river’s HZ. He
used a rhodamine fluorescent dye injected into the river for his measurements. HZ was not
increased and the reasons why apply directly to a potential bypass and its potential negative
impact.


Mr. Goetz found that the Provo River gains 1 cubic meter per second/Sec of water through out
the length of the middle Provo. This comes from groundwater: Page 80. “All study reaches gain
ground water discharge on the order of 1 cubic meter/sec over a typical reach length
(approximately 650 meter).” He mentions this value in other parts of his study including P90:
“No significant in flow or outflow points occurred in the study reaches, though all reaches
gained about 1 cubic meter/second of ground water discharge.”

Mr Woetz’s two reasons for why the PRRP did not further increase HZ is (Page 110) : 1) “One
naturally imposed limitation is the regional ground water regime [Woessner, 2000]. The
Provo River gains on the order of 1 m3/s of flow per 650 m of channel length. The
prevalent ground water gradient toward the stream could limit hyporheic flow from
extending laterally any significant distance into the adjacent floodplain. There could be
anthropogenic boundary conditions imposed through various construction techniques as
well”.


That is, the high pressure of regional ground water flowing into the Provo River may
prevent the distance that HZ can flow against that gradient.
Just as disturbing is the effect of construction by heavy machinery on subsurface flow
(his “anthropogenic boundary conditions”, above). He addresses this on page 111,
where he describes compaction and “clogging” by particulates during construction with
heavy machinery as inhibiting lateral flow in the sub-surface. Thus, a freeway could
compact or clog the soils, making a barrier to the important subsurface waters that are
an important water source to the Provo River. It could seriously damage the
hydrological patterns of subsurface flow in the Provo River basin and flow to the Provo
River.

Those who are familiar to the North Fields know well this “river” of subsurface water that
flows through the cobble just below the surface and fluctuates with the season. Thus, it
is not just visible “wetlands” that are at issue here, but the subsurface return flow to the
Provo River.

Finally, Mr. Goetz’s admonition on Pages 17,18 is critically important to any massive
building in the North Fields: “This suggests that a strong, real-time feedback should
exist between the planning and execution of monitoring and [bypass] restoration
activities. The collection of baseline data is critical in the planning process, and in
quantifying change [Kondolf, 1995]. This indicates that monitoring should begin well in
advance of [bypass] restoration activities.”


The extensive sub-surface water flowing to and replenishing critical water to the Provo
River (1cubic meter of water every 650 meters) has only begun to be understood and
would require extensive study to define. That should be done well before any proposal
to put a divided highway bisecting the North Fields.

Read the full report here
Additional Reading: Friends of Heber Valley's letter to UDOT

This is the letter as we sent it. Feel free to use it for inspiration should you decide to write them yourself.