Jordan River Commission to help restore, finish parkway in 2017
By Tori La Rue | firstname.lastname@example.org
When completed in Fall of 2017, a pedestrian and biking a bridge spanning from North Temple to 200 South in Salt Lake City will complete the Jordan River Parkway Trail, likely creating a national record for Utah.
“We have done a bit of research, and we think that when this is completed the Jordan River Parkway trail plus the connecting trails on the north and south ends that go all the way from Ogden to Provo, will be the longest continuous paved trail system in the United States,” said Laura Hanson, the executive director for the Jordan River Commission. “We are pretty excited.”
Because West Jordan is a member city of the Jordan River Commission, Hanson visited the city council on April 5 to update city leaders about current and past projects along the riverfront. She said securing $1.23 million from the Utah State Legislature for the 1,200-foot bridge at North Temple was the commission’s “biggest win” of 2016.
Currently, there are only two gaps in the 45-mile Jordan River Parkway Trail: the one between North Temple and 200 South and another in the Bluffdale area from 14600 South to about 15000 South. The Bluffdale section, fully funded by Salt Lake County, will likely reach completion in June 2017, according to the commission's website, leaving the bridge as the final connector.
The $6.64 million bridge, which has been funded through intergovernmental partnerships between Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, the Jordan River Commission and the State of Utah, will span three active freight rail lines. While $50,000 is still needed to close the gap, Salt Lake City anticipates internally allocating the funds necessary to finish the bridge and complete the trail, according to the website.
“Thank you for the long path that we have that will be the longest in the nation,” West Jordan Councilman Dirk Burton said after Hanson’s presentation. “I have ridden my bicycle from here to Ogden, and it is a fantastic route.”
Burton also commented on the commission’s efforts to remove “miserable goat heads” from the parkway and river bottoms. These pesky puncture vine contain spiky seed pods that break apart, harden and dry and have seen explosive growth among the Jordan River for some time.
“If you have ever gotten a flat tire on the Jordan River Parkway trail, this guy is likely the culprit,” Hanson said. “They will get stuck in the bottoms of your shoes in your dog’s paws.”
For the past five years, the Jordan River Commission has used an insect called a puncture vine weevil to combat the spread of these plants. The weevil eats only puncture vine and burrows its eggs into the plant’s head and green teeth, reducing the amount of seeds the vines can spread.
“Each one of these plants can produce between 500 and 2,000 seeds, so if you let just one seed go, you’ve got a big problem,” Hanson said, justifying the use of weevils.
In 2017, the commission hopes to better manage a puncture hot spot along the trail in Midvale near 700 West, Hanson said.
“It is likely to creep into West Jordan’s sections of the trails if we don’t get it under control, so we are working hard on that,” she said.
Last year, the commission cleared invasive species out from around the trail and river near 3300 South. 3300 South is also receiving other cosmetic and restorative updates this year.
“It used to be a magnet for illegal dumping, homeless camps and really quite covered in invasive vegetation, and is starting to look better every day,” Hanson said.
Pioneer Crossing Park in West Valley City is similarly undergoing renovations. The commission secured $3 million for the park updates alone from the Salt Lake County parks and recreation bond that passed in November.
Other areas along the Jordan River will start to see new access points, trailhead kiosks and signage within the next two years as part of another development project, Hansen said. North Salt Lake received one of the newest trail kiosk signs. The city is working to create a boat access point into the river near Center Street.
The commission helps to roll out a master-planned vision of the Jordan River by assisting member cities implement projects along the trail and river. Out of the 17 cities that the Jordan River runs through or borders, 14 are members.
Bluffdale and Midvale joined the commission in 2016, and
Hanson said the commission will try to persuade Lehi, Murray and the newly
incorporated Millcreek to join this year.
West Jordan Mayor Kim Rolfe said he was impressed with what the commission has done for West Jordan and all other cities in the valley and called the Jordan River and its trail a valuable amenity for all cities involved.