Governor Gary Herbert traveled to Moab Monday, where he heard about plans to re-establish Moab as Utah’s mountain biking mecca. Moab is halfway through an ambitious plan to add hundreds of miles of both paved and single-track bike paths, which will be tied together by a transit hub next to the Colorado River. The governor was told it will all be in place by the end of next year, at a total cost of $21 million in federal grants.
Governor Herbert predicted that Moab and the rest of Utah are soon to be “rediscovered” as the state economy continues to improve and diversify, and that “dramatic growth is coming, whether you like it or not.” Herbert says all sectors of the Utah economy are growing twice as fast as the national rate, and theorized that the current upswing in Utah unemployment is due to increased optimism among job seekers. The governor noted that high unemployment in the Moab area is still “a pocket of concern,” despite this summer’s production of two major movies in the area.
Herbert also pledged to help speed up the uranium cleanup in Moab, which he characterized as a “public safety issue.” Moab mayor Dave Sakrison said the cleanup is in danger of losing experienced workers, and county council member Pat Holyoak said the public’s greatest concern is that “they will take the top off the tailings, and then walk off.”
Concerning wildfires, the governor said it will be “an expensive summer,” as Utah is “on target” to match the 1200 fires Utah saw in 2007. But Herbert expects the needed funds for firefighting will be covered by the state’s $243 million “rainy day fund.”