Priority #19: Utah’s Increasing Population

Written by: Mallory Bateman

This post continues our blog series on concerns that many Utah voters expressed in our survey that didn’t make the cut for our top ten list.

In the mid-2000s, Utah cities began emerging as some of the fastest growing places in the country. This contributed to “dealing with growth in Utah” being ranked 8th in 2004. By 2008, it had dropped to the 10th spot, 2010 saw the topic fall out of the top 10 and by 2012 it was not a concern at all. Despite the fact that many Utah cities have still found themselves on lists of the fastest growing communities in recent years, this year’s 19th place ranking shows that the concern of population growth has fallen over time for Utah voters. Overall, 44% of respondents indicated that they had concern about it.

While younger Utah voters would potentially see the impacts of population growth for a longer amount of time, older voters were more concerned about it. Additionally, it was a bigger concern for those who have lived in Utah the longest (more than 40 years) compared with those who have been in the state for less time.

Although population growth is not a top concern for voters, Utah’s Governor’s office projects Utah’s population will double over the next 35 years. tweet this This projected growth has lead state officials to constantly think about population growth in relation to infrastructure and resources. Since this survey is intended to inform both voters and decision makers, the statewide focus on growth led Utah Foundation to ask a follow-up question. FigRespondents were asked to indicate what their top priority from a list of three options when thinking about Utah’s increasing population. The three options were: infrastructure – like roads and water, environmental impacts, or education and other government programs. Infrastructure was the top priority tweet this (41%), followed by education and other government programs (36%), and environmental impacts (19%).

Efforts by the state and local agencies are taking these priorities to heart. Since 2008, Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan has been a collaborative effort between the state’s four metropolitan planning organizations, Utah Department of Transportation, and Utah Transit Authority to plan for Utah’s future transportation needs. The Statewide Water Infrastructure Plan is a new effort, with a first edition released this year, attempting to plan for the future municipal and industrial water needs of the state. Not far behind, Education remains an important priority for Utah voters when thinking about population growth tweet this The Governor’s Office started the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission in 2010 to implement education reform and long-range planning.

For the 19% of voters who indicated that environmental impacts were their top priority, they fell in line with the results of the recent Envision Utah survey which placed Air Quality and Water as two of the top three priorities for Utahns.  The Mountain Accord, a public planning and visioning process for the mountains along the Wasatch Front, also includes environment as one of their key elements for their planning.

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