City reviews proposed storm water conveyance options
by April Labine
contributing writer
Nov 24, 2010 | 2385 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Moab City Council on Nov. 23 was presented with two alternatives for improving the city’s current storm water outfall system, a project that is currently in the proposal stage, city officials said.

The discussion centered around possible conveyance, or “outfall” options to move city storm water – through a ditch, pipe or other conveyance method – to its final destination in another body of water such as the Colorado River of a creek, Moab City Manager Donna Metzler said Wednesday.

Plans for the proposed project could include construction of a conveyance system at Stewart Canyon, past Swanny City Park to the existing outfall by Moab Regional Medical Center, or along U.S. 191 from MiVida Drive to an outfall near Motel 6 or Black Oil.

One alternative, the original concept, would be entirely city funded and the other would involve a partnership with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), city officials said Tuesday. According to the analysis, the former option could potentially cost the city just over $3.7 million. A partnership option could cost up to approximately $3.2 million.

“The advantages to [the city funded] plan are we can just go. We don’t have to wait for UDOT,” Andrus said. “We’re not sure, if we do partner with them, if it will be a couple years down the road, three [years], ten [years]. There’s no guarantee when it would happen.”

Metzler, said that a proposition to UDOT could only be made in the new year.

“It would take [UDOT] a couple of months to process that,” Metzler said.

Partnering with UDOT would solve drainage issues north of Stewart Canyon, which Moab City Engineer Rebecca Andrus said will need to be addressed in the future. Because a portion of the drainage system would not need to be constructed under the UDOT plan, there would also be less cost to the city.

Andrus noted that UDOT may not even want to partner with the city and that there is a possibility that they may not come to an agreement that would be advantageous to Moab. She said that ultimately a partnership would be beneficial.

“The problem is we’re currently at an impasse [with UDOT] regarding the outfall location,” Andrus said.

According to the analysis, UDOT considers the city responsible for all improvements outside of the right-of-way. The city’s position is that storm water is a natural flow and the area immediately east of the highway is undeveloped and provides natural drainage.

“It’s been there for eons and will continue to be there and it’s not because the city developed it,” Andrus said.” Based on UDOT’s guide documents and so forth the city has no responsibility for that drainage.”

It is UDOT’s responsibility to “convey the water to an appropriate outfall,” Andrus added.

“What we’re looking at doing is creating a partnering agreement with them to essentially get over that impasse,” Andrus said.

Andrus explained that U.S. 191 couldn’t be widened without first remedying the outfall problems.

“You can’t widen the road one inch unless the drainage issues are taken care of,” she said.

Widening the highway is also a necessity because the annual average daily traffic at U.S. 191 and 500 West currently exceeds capacity. According to the analysis, the average annual daily traffic was 26 percent higher in 2009 than what was predicted for 2010, she said.

In January, city staff will prepare a proposal for a partnering agreement establishing cost-sharing arrangements and timing considerations. If approved it will be taken to UDOT. Should an acceptable agreement between UDOT and the city be reached, city staff will recommend the partnership for approval, city officials said. If the UDOT plan does not come through, staff will recommend moving forward with the original plan.

“We’d like to bring back to city council a more formal proposal... and go back to UDOT with that,” Metzler said.

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