Big Cottonwood Canyon road improvements for cyclists


Were you aware that in summer 2012 the State spent $1,000,000 on road improvements in Big Cottonwood Canyon to make it a safer, more pleasant place for the cycling community?

Monique Avery, Public Involvement Coordinator for URS Corporation, shares details of this cyclist-friendly project. Working with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Monique’s role was to coordinate with the public and stakeholders to gather input and notify users of construction impacts.

Due to the use of Federal funding, the project required an environmental study, known as a Categorical Exclusion (CatEx). The study evaluated the impacts to wildlife and plant life in the area and spanned several years. After the CatEx was approved, the project went into the design phase that included improvements to Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (SR-190).

The following considerations helped steer the shoulder-widening concept:

  • A wider shoulder allows a motorist to safely pass a cyclist. This can be a significant benefit and improvement for cyclists, especially more experienced riders. A shoulder also helps trucks, buses, and vehicles turning onto the major road from a driveway or wide street.

  • Motorists are less likely to encroach when they are passing a cyclist on facilities with paved shoulders.

  • Cyclists are more likely to ride further from the edge of the roadway on a paved shoulder than they do in a wide lane (providing a greater margin of safety to avoid obstacles and making them more visible).

  • Shoulders improve cyclist accommodation. For most highways, cyclists are legally allowed to ride on the travel lanes. A paved or partially paved shoulder offers cyclists an alternative to ride with some separation from vehicular traffic.

Included in the shoulder-widening concept was the placement of a new fiber optic system (under the shoulder) with traffic cameras, cell phone service, and other information systems to enable UDOT to remotely monitor traffic and weather.

The pre-construction phase (CatEx and design) accounted for approximately $90,000 of the project budget. The remaining $900,000 went toward construction of the 10-mile stretch of SR-190. Granite Construction completed the shoulder widening in about four months. Simultaneous and just west of this project, UDOT replaced the nearly 80-year-old Maxfield Bridge. The new structure, built by Wadsworth Construction, was constructed next to the existing bridge, minimizing impacts to cyclists and travelers. Additionally, this portion of SR-190 was realigned to improve site distances in this vicinity, increasing safety to cyclists and motorists.

The projects were well received, even during the sometimes painful process of construction, due to stakeholders understanding the value of the improvements.

So if you have stayed away from Big Cottonwood Canyon due to safety concerns, worry no more! Big Cottonwood Canyon offers an invigorating ride with breathtaking views. At the top of the canyon is Brighton, where you can stop over for the night. Visit for details.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates and news of special events and offers.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply