As Utah’s population grows, state and business leaders are trying to plan carefully. Only so much undeveloped land remains, and they say they want to build strategically.
Utahns living near the Point of the Mountain area say the biggest issue by far is transportation, particularly freeway congestion on Interstate-15 between Salt Lake and Utah Counties.
"It’s going to require every tool in the toolbox, to make this bottleneck work long-term," says Envision Utah CEO Robert Grow.
That means more road connections, more frequent rail service, more bike lanes, "bringing destinations closer to home" to shorten driving distances, "widening existing roads and …carpooling," Grow told the Point of the Mountain Development Commission Wednesday.
Envision Utah has spent months gathering input from residents and workers in South Salt Lake County and Northern Utah County about issues and goals for the coming decades. Grow presented survey findings to the commission on Wednesday afternoon.
Area residents are also concerned about air quality, maintaining places to recreate nearby, and keeping up with the demand for an educated and diverse workforce.
There thousands of acres of undeveloped land in areas near the border between Salt Lake and Utah Counties, including the site of the state prison in Draper.
Grow’s team says that if cities want to remain affordable, they need to invest in more apartments and townhomes. State Rep. Brad Wilson, who also works as a developer, agrees.
"I hear all the time, 'We don’t want multi-family, we don’t want high-density in our city, but we do want our kids to be able to live here,'" Wilson says. "Well those two things are not going to go together in about a decade."
Envision Utah estimates that by 2050, nearly 3 million people will live in Salt Lake and Utah Counties alone.