The Book Cliffs Transportation Corridor Study’s goal is to show that the reduction in travel time and travel costs between Lake Powell, Arches, Canyonlands, Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge and Yellowstone National Park will result in a north-south movement of tourists that would help increase the visitation to Arches and Canyonlands national parks by over 100 percent in the next 26 years.
The transportation study’s increase in tourism on the Book Cliffs Road is based on the economic theory that “reducing the travel costs will increase the volume of visitation” (Page 37). The direct reductions in travel costs are a reduction of 30 to 40 miles of travel, 35 to 45 minutes of time and a direct cost savings of 40 cents per mile (Page 42). Indirect savings such as reduced air pollution and increased road safety are assumed to increase the total savings to $7,547,763 in the first year (Page 43). The study claims that the direct cost savings of 40 cents per mile per vehicle, combined with the other indirect savings of approximately over $7,500,000, will increase travel on the corridor between Lake Powell, Vernal and maybe Yellowstone by “2,700 daily vehicle trips” (page VI).
The report does not mention that the road may take the tourists through 23,000 acres of land scraped clean of all vegetation for tar sands development and the largest oil fields in Utah, and will provide hundreds of large oil trucks as travel companions.
The transportation study claims the Book Cliffs Road will provide Grand County with $65 million (Page VII) from construction and maintenance costs over the next 26 years. Grand County has no construction company capable of constructing the road or even capable of maintaining the road. LeGrand Johnson Construction, located in San Juan County, is the only large construction company in this area. Grand Junction, Colorado, and Moab are both approximately 65 miles from the intersection of the Book Cliffs Road and Interstate 70. Grand Junction is eight times larger than Grand County and has all the facilities necessary to complete the project and maintain the road. The construction of this road will not be the $65 million bonanza promised by the study to Grand County, but will be a bonanza to either Colorado or other parts of Utah.
The Book Cliffs Transportation Study assumes that the corridor will increase hunting visitation per year from 1,500 in 2015 to 6,000 in 2040 (Page 34). Hunting visitation is not a function of better access to the Book Cliffs. Hunting visits are controlled by the Utah Department of Wildlife through a lottery system. The Book Cliffs have no general public hunt for deer or bull elk. The only general hunt is a short season for spike elks. The new road will result in the dislocation of animals and a significant increase in roadkill during migration. The new road will not provide more hunting opportunities, but will reduce the amount of available game by roadkill and destruction of thousands of acres of habitat.
The Book Cliffs Transportation Study cost Grand County $10,000. The study contains the word “assumption” over 30 times and the word “assume” over 50 times. An assumption is defined by Google as “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.” I am not sure how many facts are in the study.