August 11, 2015 – Today, the Utah State Prison Relocation Commission voted unanimously today to move the Utah State Prison from Draper to Salt Lake City at a location just north of 7200 W. and I-15. This will certainly result in a huge increase in traffic at the I-80 and 7200 S.
This will greatly affect the Great Salt Lake Bike Route that runs from 2200 W. and North Temple along the airport bike path and then along the I-80 frontage road to the Great Salt Lake Marina. Additionally, comments in the hearing indicated that economic development potential of the area is a key factor, so cyclists can expect more businesses, traffic lights, and traffic on one of the most popular bike routes in the Salt Lake Valley.
The route is already in danger due to the development of a new industrial park just west of the Hunter-Douglas building on the frontage road.
Additionally, multiple races and rides will likely be affected, including the Gran Fondo Salt Lake, which utilizes the frontage road, and the weekly time trial series held near Salt Air.
The next step in the political process is that the Utah legislature would be convened to approve the site selection, and then Governor Herbert will sign off on the move.
Salt Lake City leadership has been staunchly opposed to the move as indicated in today's press release:
Joint Response to Salt Lake City Prison Site Selection
By Mayor Ralph Becker and Councilman James Rogers
Salt Lake City – August 11, 2015 — We are troubled to learn that the Prison Relocation Commission has chosen Salt Lake City as their recommended location for a new Utah State Prison. Despite the vocal and constant opposition from our community and information Salt Lake City has provided that this site is unsuitable for this use, the Commission has recommended moving the prison to our City.
By moving the prison out by the Kennecott tailings in west Salt Lake City, the State will have ignored the opposition by our residents and elected leaders.
Salt Lake City will continue to fight today’s decision, and we look forward to working together with Salt Lake City’s legislators to pursue all options to prevent the prison being built. This State prison would be a new, additional burden, removing taxable property and potentially adding costs.
If the prison ultimately is sited by the State in our City and our challenges are exhausted, then the State has a responsibility to address more of the City’s regional services and facilities. Providing regional facilities and services is part of serving as the Capital City. Salt Lake City has been successful by working collaboratively with our regional, state, federal, and private partners.
The Prison Relocation Commission has indicated that it will cover all costs associated with the prison. Beyond that, we expect Salt Lake City to receive specific commitments to address more of these statewide responsibilities.
A previous press release indicates opposition to the move for multiple reasons:
SALT LAKE CITY – Mayor Ralph Becker and the City Council encourage residents to make their voices heard at a meeting of the Utah Legislature’s Prison Relocation Commission on Tuesday, June 16 at 6 p.m. in Room 30 of the Capitol House Building (view meeting agenda, here http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2015/html/00002777.htm)
Mayor Becker and the Council remain staunchly opposed to the state relocating the prison to Salt Lake City and have provided the commission and legislators with wide-ranging documentation and data outlining concerns.
Shared concerns with the prison moving to Salt Lake City are significant:
•The proposed site represents a serious public safety threat, particularly when a seismic event occurs.
•The taxpayer cost of building the roads and the other infrastructure necessary to build a prison at this site would be extremely high.
•The taxpayer costs required to address the inherent and consequential environmental conditions on this site are excessive.
•The costs of constructing a prison facility in a high liquefaction zone would also be significant.
•The Salt Lake City community already hosts a disproportionate number of incarceration and transition facilities.
•The current Draper site should have been considered, on the same criteria and assessment basis, as the proposed new locations.
•The projected economic benefits from moving the prison should have been offset by the amount of anticipated economic growth that would occur within the State regardless of whether or not the prison is relocated.
To read a detailed analysis of why the prison should not be located in Salt Lake City, please visit http://slcdocs.com/mayor/SLCResponsetoProposedSitesforPrisonRelocation.pdf
Cycling Utah will bring you more details as we learn them and if there is anything cyclists can do to prevent the loss of this route.
Cyclists that would like to make their opinions known can call Gov. Herbert at 801-538-100 and ask to leave a comment or visit: http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_comment.html