Governor Gary Herbert’s vision for achieving long term, sustained economic growth includes transportation.
Thursday January 12, Herbert spoke to members of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, a professional organization that focuses on ways to optimize transportation mobility and safety. To grow the economy and expand the state’s tax base, the state’s chief executive advocates a broad approach that includes job creation, a better educated work force and a well maintained transportation system that can support mobility.
Herbert explained that choosing between education and transportation is a false dichotomy. “You can have both and you need both” in order to sustain economic growth.
Herbert opened his remarks by reading a letter written by a grade school student. “I think people need jobs,” wrote the would-be staffer, who also congratulated Governor Herbert for helping to keep Utah awesome. Transportation projects support job creation and sustain the economy beyond construction, explained Herbert, who sited some examples of how improvements have benefitted the local and regional economy beyond the orange barrel stage.
An uphill passing lane was added to U.S. 89 in Severe and Sanpete counties recently, and the project reduced delay for road users. The new lane is not just a “quality of life” improvement, Herbert explained. Better mobility on U.S. 89 now supports better movement of vital goods through the area.
Business owners from the area have told the governor how the improvement has “helped their businesses be more successful.” A better transportation system allows businesses to expand to more customers and “enjoy a better bottom line.”
Herbert related the experience of a business owner near the newly constructed South Layton Interchange. The florist, who is located in the area locals call Old Town, is “doing quite well” after experiencing a lull in business before construction. “People had a hard time gaining access to that part of town,” said Herbert. The local area which seemed to be “dying before” is now being considered as a location for a new shopping center because of the interchange that “opened up that sector of town.”
In addition to supporting local businesses, transportation mobility also attracts companies that seek to put down roots in the state. In Utah “we can still get around town,” as opposed to other metropolitan areas that have slow commuter traffic.
Herbert shared the credit for keeping Utah awesome with the transportation professionals to whom he addressed his comments. “There is correlation to what you do and successful economic outcomes,” he said.