Ogden rebuilding Grant for pedestrians and bikes

Saturday , July 12, 2014 - 10:12 AM

OGDEN — By next month, Grant Avenue will never be the same — and city officials say if everything goes as planned, Ogden won’t be either.

The city is rebuilding Grant Avenue between 20th and 22nd streets, but the word “rebuild” might be an understatement. A complete shift in the look, design and the way people travel on it is probably more accurate.

"It’s not going to be the same street,“ said Ogden City Engineer Justin Anderson. ”It’s going to be something people have never seen before in Ogden.“

The road is still under heavy construction, but the vision of what it will ultimately look like is already starting to take shape.

The road will essentially be cut into three pieces, with massive bike lanes on each side of the main vehicular corridor. The bike lanes are so large, they almost look like full streets themselves and they are separated from the road by large islands that feature large trees, flowers and other vegetation. Sidewalks in the area will also be improved.

The new road will feature decorative intersections, new street lights, a new traffic signalization system and the speed limit will be lowered to 20 mph. There will be no on-street parking on the road, but there will be a few loading and unloading zones meant for quick stops.

"If you are in a hurry to get somewhere, this is not the road to take,“ Anderson said. ”You’ve got Washington, Wall, or Lincoln for that. This is meant to be a slower road and it’s specifically designed to be a little uncomfortable for motorists. If you’re driving on this road, it’s because you want to go on a drive that’s different from everywhere else.“

Anderson said the city has been planning the project for a while now, but it was nudged forward by the reopening of the Ogden LDS Temple.

The city expects 750,000 people to travel to Ogden during the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints open house period for the temple, which runs from Aug. 1 through Sept. 6. City officials say the massive gathering represents a once in a lifetime chance to showcase and promote the city.

”The city has wanted to do something like this for a while,“ Anderson said. ”But with the temple opening, it kind of got accelerated because the city leaders recognized what kind of draw it would be. (The redesign) is going to be something that will help sell Ogden.“

Anderson said with work going on with the temple has actually kept the project somewhat of a secret.

"I think people have just assumed it’s something the LDS church is working on,” he said. “So that combined with the construction going on all around it has kind of kept it out of public view. But I think people will like what we’ve done when it’s finished.”

The city wants to eventually complete the same type of design on Grant from the Ogden River all the way to 25th Street.

"We want to have a true connection from the River Parkway, all the way to the downtown area,” Anderson said. 

But the timetable for the rest of the project is still up in the air.

“The timeline for the rest of it depends on when money becomes available,” Anderson said.

And at $1.3 million per block, the project isn’t cheap, but then again it’s not supposed to be, Anderson said.

"This is a major reinvestment in Ogden City,“ he said. ”This is something that’s going to be here and help Ogden thrive for the next 100 years, and probably longer than that.“

City Council Chairman Richard Hyer and city Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said hopes are high for what the road will mean in Ogden.

"We think it’s going to be a signature street,” Johnson said. “Something that will be looked at as an icon.”

Anderson said the road represents the beginning of a paradigm shift in the city.

“We can’t just keep building roads and expanding lanes,” he said. “The vehicle can’t be the only thing we use to get around anymore. As a society we’ve got to change our mindset and realize we might not be able to pull right up to the front door in our cars.”

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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