Tax could ease traffic

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    By Aaron Castleton

    Cary McConnell can be seen most weekdays at 5 p.m. crammed between a myriad of cars backed up at the I-15 and 400 South exit in Springville.

    Most of this congestion is caused by the increasingly large influx of traffic returning home to the one-lane frontage road, not to mention the impeccably timed 5:15 p.m. train clogging traffic flow in both directions.

    McConnell and residents of Utah County now have reason to believe that their traffic woes at heavy intersections like this one in Springville will no longer be an issue thanks to a County Option Tax proposed Tuesday morning.

    The Utah County Board of Commissioners met yesterday morning in hopes of initiating a proposal that would aid traffic bottlenecks around the county.

    “This is the first of three resolutions that need to happen to put this into order,” Commissioner Jerry Grover said. “The issue now is timing and whether we should wait for a legislative package to come through.”

    The county resolution would impose a quarter percent increase on all sales tax in order to fund necessary improvements to highways, fixed guide ways and systems of public transit.

    However, Utah code requires that before a County Option Tax is imposed, the imposition of such a tax be submitted to the County”s registered voters for approval.

    Springville resident Cary McConnell was enthusiastic about the possible improvement to county roads.

    “As I understand it the county would like to tack on a fraction of a percentage to sales tax in the county. And by doing so, fund the renovation and improvements to our roads,” McConnell said. “You and I both would benefit from that.”

    The benefits to Utah County transportation include widening University Parkway to six lanes, re-stripping University Avenue and providing additional lanes and widening Center Street in Provo to six lanes.

    Surrounding areas such as Payson, Spanish Fork, Springville, Lindon and Pleasant Grove will also undergo severe road renovations.

    The only question is which of these projects to begin first.

    “These renovations and improvements can be reprioritized each year,” Grover said. “We can then determine which projects will be done first.”

    Much of the county”s reasoning for the imposition of a County Option Tax is due to the states lack of interest in Utah County roads.

    “The legislature and UDOT have proven that they are not interested at all in the residents of Utah County,” Chairman Steve White said. “The state has been reluctant to fulfill their responsibility.”

    White”s comments were based on the lack of federal funds the state has provided for the renovation of Utah County”s roads.

    “We need to provide matching funds to request the states involvement,” White said. “Now it all rests on whether or not the resident voters think it”s important or not.”

    Whether or not the County Option Tax will be instituted remains to be seen. Voters will have the opportunity to express their opinions in open voting sessions beginning September 2004.

    “Some of these renovations we clearly can”t fund,” Grover said. “However, if we came to the table with a little additional funding we can get a change in prioritization from the state.”

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