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Upper Mill Creek Canyon Road Improvements Project

A Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) Project

A road with trees and flowers on the side.

What is FLAP?

FLAP improves transportation facilities by providing access to, near, or within federal lands. Much of the lands east of Salt Lake Valley are managed by the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Upper Mill Creek Canyon Project Scope

The scope of the project includes roadway improvements between Big Water Trailhead and Winter Gate, a total of 4.5 miles.

To complete all the transportation improvements identified in Mill Creek Canyon, the cost estimate is $38,000,000. This FLAP project will cover the scope of work identified in the upper canyon only, between Big Water Trailhead and Winter Gate.

Total Project Value: $19,600,000

Local Required Match: $4,276,200

Public Input So Far

Following an open house on Nov. 9, 2021, the project team received more than 340 comments from the public and reviewed them.

Comments focused on the importance of Mill Creek Canyon as a community resource, whether for its natural environment or recreation opportunities. Most comments fell into one or more major themes:

  • Resource protection
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety
  • Increased speeds
  • Parking
  • Design element considerations
  • Shuttle system or other mass transit option
  • Level of environmental review
  • Firs cabin owner concerns
  • Section 4(f) evaluation

The project team is considering public input in the design and working to best balance often competing interests. The project team has compiled a summary of the public's comments and provided responses.

Download responses to key comment themes.

View all the Nov. 9, 2021 Open House Information on the potential scope of the Upper Millcreek Canyon Road Improvements Project.

May 19 Open House

Project partners held a second open house on May 19, 2022 to respond to public comments made so far in the project and share preliminary design options being weighed.

Go through the materials and tell us what you want to see from this project and which designs meet your needs in the canyon.

Watch a recording of the May 19 open house presentation.

Open House #2 Presentation - May 19 

Upper Mill Creek Road Improvements Timeline

2021 August-October Present scope of work, cost estimate, and timeline to local jurisdictions and partners
  Nov. 3 Press conference and start identifying sources for $4.3M match
  Nov. 9 Public Open House with FHWA Central Federal Lands Highway Division at Millcreek and 
  Nov. 9  Start of 30-day public comment period
  Week of Dec. 6 Public comment period ends
2022 January – August Consider public comments, Preliminary Design (30%), environmental field surveys, technical analysis
2023 May – December Pre-final design (95%), final technical reports and NEPA documentation
2024 January – March Final Design (100%), permitting, and contract preparation
  August – November Initiate construction.
Prepare FLAP application for future phase: road improvements between Toll Booth and Winter Gate
2025 Spring – Fall Construction
2026 Summer Complete construction; ribbon cutting at Winter Gate

Details of Upper Mill Creek Canyon Project Scope

Reconstruct Mill Creek Canyon Road

Big Water Trailhead to Elbow Fork (3.1 miles) with a 24’ wide paved surface Elbow Fork to Winter Gate (1.4 miles) with 29’ wide paved surface

Improve picnic area & trailhead parking

This may include Big Water Trailhead, Alexander Basin Trailhead, Clover Springs Picnic Area, Fir Crest Picnic Area, and Elbow Fork Trailhead. The Winter Gate Parking/Trailhead will be designed for a future phase.

Realign roadway at Thousand Springs

Improve watershed functioning at Thousand Springs. The road through this section will be widened and the streambed channel will be realigned to address safety issues.

Improve roadway drainage

Extend recently installed box culverts, add headwalls and wingwalls to improve roadway safety. We will consult with the State Historic Preservation Board to address concerns with the historic White Bridge.

Install Future Emergency Infrastructure

Install a 2-inch diameter conduit within the shoulder of the road to support future monitoring (Intelligent Transportation Systems/Dynamic Message Signs) and emergency communications in the canyon.

Implement roadway safety measures

Implement roadway safety and pedestrian crossing safety measures at high-frequency crossing areas like Elbow Fork Trailhead, such as signing, striping, and installing guardrails at appropriate locations.