Growth in Small Utah Towns Prompts Road Safety Concerns

As small towns rapidly gain population, local infrastructure will have to adjust to keep up with more pedestrians and car traffic.

1 minute read

November 14, 2023, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of wide street in St. George, Utah at dusk with red rock mountains in background.

Andrew / Adobe Stock

As more residents and visitors walk, bike, and drive in Utah’s booming small towns, traffic safety is becoming an urgent issue, reports David Condos for KUER.

In St. George, a fast-growing town known as the gateway to Zion National Park, two pedestrians were fatally hit by cars in early November. According to the city’s active transportation coordinator Lloyd Sutton, “The city is working to scale up safety as it grows by adding more traffic signals, paved trails and protected bike lanes.”

For Sutton, “Good design can fix a lot, but it can't fix everything.” In small towns, improving traffic safety also “means changing the way both drivers and walkers think and getting them to pay attention to things they might not have had to before.” 

Sutton notes that there is some local backlash to new infrastructure that, for some residents, doesn’t fit with their small-town image. Meanwhile, many streets in St. George and other towns are wide with high speed limits, creating dangerous conditions for pedestrians. However, this also means that “cities have more room to reconfigure the space for safety, such as adding a bike lane, parking strip or median.”

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