Utah transportation authorities are preparing to improve the public transportation system in Provo and Orem.
“The purpose of this project is not to replace cars but to give people more options and make a multi-modal approach to transportation. The city of Orem has fully embraced it,” Paul Goodrich, transportation engineer for the city of Orem, said.
The new Bus Rapid Transit system involves a new type of bus that has high speed, high capacity functioning and drives in its own lane to offer faster and efficient operation.
The Provo/Orem BRT website claims this system offers reliable service with intervals as low as five minutes between buses. Though the buses will function much faster during peak traffic hours, they will still obey traffic signals like a regular bus.
To accommodate the new bus lane, officials have proposed a re-widening of University Parkway and sidewalk renovation. There will still be landscaped medians in the middle of the road, but the BRT will have a new series of 17 stations located in the center of the road.
The first phase will connect the south end of UVU campus directly to landmarks such as University Mall, Lavell Edwards Stadium, Provo Towne Centre Mall, Novell and others.
Phase two of the system will circle around campus from 800 South to 400 West down to Main Street. This phase connects the system back into the main route from phase one to form a UVU loop. The BRT would easily service the UVU’s satellite campuses in Spanish Fork, North Orem, Provo Municipal Airport and Lehi.
“I think it’s a great idea. I know quite a few students who don’t love driving to and from Provo every time they need to travel between cities. The BRT would totally cut down on costs for everyone,” Cameron Sokol, a sophomore at UVU, said.
In addition to the development of the BRT system proposal, there have also been several assessments of the intersections and roads in the area that would be affected. The University Parkway and Center Street intersection in Orem is one of the three busiest intersections in the state, and one of the busiest in the entire western U.S.
“We are currently considering seven different alternative intersection plans for those previously existing intersections that would help ease traffic,” Goodrich said. “Before there are any decisions regarding these intersections, we would turn it over to the public for some input and commentary.”
Instead of trying to deal with the BRT and then fixing the intersections and roads in the county, it will all be done at once, in one large project. The city offices and UDOT are working to include a transportation system that will continue to service the community for years into the future.
The final Environmental Assessment for the project was published in April 2011. The FTA, FHWA, UTA and UDOT have signed the EA. The construction on this project is planned to begin sometime in 2016.
“When the county’s population doubles—when, not if—we will be ready for it,” Goodrich said.
UTA and UDOT are currently working together on the preliminary design of the project.