Bluff says slow down

The main artery of Highway 191 traveling through Bluff was once again a topic of conversation at the Bluff town council.

Mayor Ann Leppanen reported on conversations she had with the Utah Department of Transportation and local law enforcement for how to address the issue of speeding through the town.

Leppanen reports that the town does not have the option to decrease the speed limit in town but they are working with UDOT to change electronic signs in town.

The council discussed possible options to increase enforcement of the speed limit in town, either through possible increase presence of San Juan County Sheriff’s Deputies or troopers with the Utah Highway Patrol.

“The problem with enforcement in town is local people are going to get tickets,” said council member Brant Murray. “So if we increase traffic enforcement, which we need to do, some people in town are going to get tickets.”

Members of the public commenting on the meeting said they would like to see several crosswalks in town. A recent UDOT study of the area concluded there are not significant numbers of pedestrians crossing the highway to warrant a pedestrian cross-walk or a school zone at the elementary school. 

The Main Street planning project is still looking at crosswalks as an option, even though the UDOT study did not recommend them after completing the recent study.

Still, town council expressed concern about how busy the main road can get, especially on the west end of town.

“I just think with the curve there right before the bridge, the school, parents at K&C, the tourists, the gravel truck, other trucks, we can look forward to some carnage here one of these days,” said council member Jim Sayers. “I hope it’s not sooner, but I just can’t see it not happening the way things are going here.”

Councilmember Luanne Hook added that if the town does ask for more enforcement that an emphasis on enforcement during the day on weekdays would be best.

Councilmember Linda Sosa added, “Some towns have a reputation for giving tickets, and once you get the reputation, you don’t need as much enforcement. When you go up through Wellington, I always go the speed limit.”

While most council members seemed to generally agree that increased enforcement is likely needed, some members expressed a sensitivity to not wanting an increase in profiling.

Mayor Leppanen said she would speak with a Utah Highway Patrol representative to ask more questions and invite a trooper back to council before officially asking for increased enforcement.

The town council also discussed and voiced their opposition to a possible four-lane highway through Bluff.

San Juan County Commissioners and other local leaders have had some preliminary discussions about asking UDOT to expand the highways in San Juan County to four-lane roadways. 

Although the talks are in the early stages, the Bluff Town Council looked at how a four-lane highway might impact the town.

Using an estimated width of 100 feet for the roadway, Bluff resident Mary Gillam shared a map with the council showing how a roadway that wide could cut into existing buildings and parking spaces, as well as impact Cow Canyon.

Mayor Leppanen said that in an email conversation with UDOT representative Jared Beard, she learned that UDOT doesn’t see a way they could put a four-lane through Bluff due to issues such as expense and geography.

The council also approved a letter in support of a shuttle system from Blanding to Utah County. In the letter, the town asked to be included in a future iteration of the shuttle route.

The council also received an update on the Bluff River Trail. The Bureau of Land Management has done a rough cut of the trail, and the city is working on additional access points to the trail through easements. 

Mayor Leppenan explained those easements have been delayed as the town is still acquiring the official deed for some land from the county. 

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