Connecting Brigham City and Logan, Utah, this northern Utah highway project was designed to improve traffic flow on US Highway 89/91. The existing two lane road was insufficient for the volume of traffic. The project received major funding from the federal government, therefore a full scale environmental impact statement (EIS) was required.
Two major alternatives were considered, widening of the existing route and a new alignment. The visual simulations illustrate the range of cut and fill and related highway construction activities. Revegetation proposals are also shown.
The major visual simulation issue was bias. The public was very concerned that what they saw in the visual simulations represented what was actually being proposed, therefore a great deal of time and careful attention was invested to ensure that the visual simulations were credible. This project illustrates another challenge to avoiding bias. When the EIS was undertaken, the alternative designs were very preliminary, therefore credible visual simulations had to be based on "sketchy" design information. A series of public meetings with careful explanations were required.
EALA's work added value to the Wellsville Canyon Highway project in the following ways...
- Decreased costs to the highway department and consulting engineers by decreasing time required for alternative alignment design
- Increased public awareness of design strategies to minimize environmental impacts
- Decreased public resistance to the project by representing the project intent accurately, realistically, and credibly
- Effectively used sophisticated computer visual simulation technology for the first time on a highway project in the state of Utah
- Effectively showed how non-traditional highway design, using more fill than cut, would minimize impacts to visual and other natural resources
- Significantly reduced design revision time by clearly communicating the preliminary design alternatives and facilitating selection of the preferred alternative