I hope you’ll join me and others tomorrow morning (Thursday, Dec 1st) in front of the Library at 10:00 am to talk — BRTrees!

The BRT project has brought a lot of attention to trees in Provo and Orem. Most of what I hear is gloom and doom but the reality is the BRT (aka TRIP) project will dramatically improve the long-term outlook for trees in our area.

Here’s some fact and fiction concerning the BRT and trees.

Fiction: Our tree count will go down because of BRT.
Fact: The project does require the removal of about 286 trees but the project will net a 400% increase in new trees. That’s right – we’ll lose 286 trees but gain 1017 new ones. We plan on showing how dramatic it is by placing a green pinwheel for each tree planted.

Fiction: These are all healthy trees.
Fact: Many people don’t realize it but the beautiful maples along University are nearing the end of their useful life. They were planted in road base many years ago and upon close inspection are not healthy trees.

Tree 8Tree 18Tree 16
Fiction: We’re going to lose the look and feel that we love on University Ave.
Fact: The look and feel will be different but we’ve used some of the best designers in the country to come up with a unique design that not only adds more trees but also provides space for bike lanes.

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  1. Brian

    Well done on the layout of the right-of-way shown in the pencil sketch. I love the diminishing energy as you move from center of street to building frontage. I always thought there was a weird conflict having traffic, bikes, parking. As a cyclist it always makes you feel like you are invading auto space and that you don’t belong. Some few motorists enhance that feeling. I’ve seen the traffic, parking, bikes, park strip trees scenario, which is great. Putting the bikes on the other side of the trees and park strips is genius for an urban environment. Well done Provo! I think the citizens will be pleased when they see their modern street design completed.

    1. John

      I’m afraid I blew it. I put in an old sketch without checking the date. I’ve updated the sketch in the blog post. Very sorry for the confusion. It may have changed enough that your compliment doesn’t still apply.

      1. brian

        Awww. That makes me sad. As a fellow designer I know there are always constraints that don’t appear to the general public. At first, I was like, “Everything is the same width within the right of way isn’t it? Can’t you just shift everything around and you still have the same width of right of way? If we’re gonna do it now, let’s do it 100% right, right now, not 75%” After much thought and contemplation I know that isn’t always the case. Sad, but I am optimistic that the designers did everything they possibly could to keep the buffered bike lanes. In the end it just wasn’t feasible. I’m sure the design phase is far past, but I would love to meet with someone from the design team to see what the reasons were for axing the buffered bike lanes.

      2. Brian

        Aww. This makes me sad. At first I was like, “no features were lost and each item is a standard width, so what would matter if it was on one side of the parking vs the other. If we’re going to do it now, let’s do it right, right now.” Then I calmed down and my designer side said often the reasons aren’t apparent to the general public and the designers have their reasons. They clearly wanted it in the beginning but when you transfer hand drawn concepts to measured drawings some things don’t survive. I know the design phase is probably far past, but I would love to meet with someone on the design team to understand why buffered bike lanes didn’t make the cut.

  2. Jeromiah Drennan

    Thanks for explaining this, I didn’t realize this many trees would be planted! I’ve been excited about the BRT project for a few years, but I was sad to hear so many trees would be ripped up, I hadn’t realised these trees (at least some of them) were in poor condition so that helps me feel better! I can only see this BRT project as a great asset to our community. Reading about BRT systems elsewhere in the country, it seems like a lot of people see it as “just another bus” and don’t fully appreciate them, but after a little while ridership goes up and quality of life improves along the corridor.

  3. Zeth

    Thanks for posting this mayor. I had similar concerns about 800 N but I assume now that they will be replaced in the same way. I was worried about the mature trees and their eminent removal.

    I hate to see trees go, especially when they are mature. Young new trees just do not have the same feel or character…..but if they are aging.

    For those still curious about the trees, I can attest to maples. They can look healthy but they do eventually develop disease that aren’t always apparent right off. They get old and sick basically. I think the maple I dealt with in Orem was planted at a similar time as those in provo. I guess about 70 years is their max….?

    1. Brian

      There are varieties of trees that have little tolerance for road side (hardscape) application (ie. soils or lack, chemical exposure, temperature issues, lack of tree community, etc) and maple’s are one. The use of varieties which are sustainable will result in trees with longer healthier life spans.
      The loss of trees, mature or not, is a concern. Fortunately the increase in plantings will have a positive result, in time.

  4. Rob

    I love the buffered bike lanes.

    1. John

      I’m afraid I blew it. I put in an old sketch without checking the date. I’ve updated the sketch in the blog post. We still have bike lanes but they are not buffered as shown in the previous sketch.

      1. Rob

        Rats! Everything about this new design is worse in pretty much every way. Are the turning counts for right-turn vehicles onto 100 South so high as to warrant losing the buffered bike lanes just for a turning lane?

        Oh well. Better something than nothing.

  5. Aaron Skabelund

    Are those really protected bike lanes on University? I hope so, and I hope they will run from 700 N to 600 S?

    1. John

      Aaron, I owe you an apology. I used the wrong sketch. Still bike lanes but in a different place.

  6. Jamie Littlefield

    Buffered bike lanes? Love, love, love!

    1. John

      Jamie, I owe you and Arron an apology. We have the bike lanes but they’re not buffered. See the updated sketches.

  7. Sarah Dorff

    Too bad you lost the buffered bike lanes.

  8. Earlier updates. Please!!

    I’d love to be able to come see all the open hearings and public discussions you and others in the city host, but they’re almost always announced a day in advance and, maybe I’m the only one, but my schedule is usually packed pretty tight with that little notice.

    Any way you could announce these things perhaps a week out?

    1. John


      Your concern is valid. Would you like to meet in person to discuss the project? We can meet just the two of us or if you’d like to put together a small group I’d be happy to come and discuss the project. You can email me at and we’ll find a time to meet.

  9. Ginger Woolley

    This is truly what we need. SO VISIONARY. With the population exploding along the Wasatch Front, we really need BRT and we can’t put our heads in the sand, only considering our desire to remain in a 1950s-type environment. We need to effectively manage what’s ahead. Thank you, Mayor Curtis.

  10. Sean Wolsey

    I have to laugh about the “We’ll loose the look and feel we love on University Ave.” thing: I drive University only as a last resort because it’s one of the worst traffic roads in town, preferring to use alternative routes instead.

    I’m excited for BRT. It sounds like it will be a really good thing for the city by helping reduce traffic and attracting student without cars.

  11. Lauren Anderson

    Why can’t road improvements be done without the BRT project? Or is the BRT project the way to get federal tax dollars to help fund road improvements? I see no reason for BRT or dedicated HOV lanes. They simply restrict normal vehicle traffic to fewer lanes, increasing congestion in those fewer lanes and reducing the utility of roads rather than improving them. We are not New York City, which has a very high population density, and we never will be. UTA is great for the few people that use it but we simply do not have the number of riders to require dedicated lanes. It’s a good idea to plan for future growth but it would take a dramatic increase in growth for BRT to become necessary or practical. Most of the growth in Utah Valley is outside of Provo and at some point in the next 30 to 50 years will likely peak as it will for the rest of the country. It’s already happening in many post-industrial countries like Japan and all over Europe. Even with the higher birth rate in this valley, it’s not likely that Provo will ever grow enough to need BRT. Urban sprawl isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially for people who don’t want to live in high-rises.

    1. John

      Lauren – All great comments and you deserve some context. Let me know when you’d like to meet and I can walk you through the details of the project.

      Email me directly –


  12. Brian

    Lauren. It is clear that high rise urban living and public transportation doesn’t work for you. That’s fine. And you say urban sprawl (or single family suburb living) and driving to every destination works for you. That’s also fine. What about other people? Don’t they get a voice in the matter? What about those people who actually want to live in a high rise, walk more than drive to destinations and want to use BRT? It seems your perspective exists because it is what you have always known, not what you have actually studied. I get that you don’t want people taking away your choice to drive and live in the suburbs. How is BRT doing that? Why do you suggest that we restrict other modes of living and transportation for those who want to live differently than you? I don’t see how anything proposed has ruined your ability to live in the suburbs and drive a car. You suggest that busses restrict “normal” vehicle traffic. I suggest that people riding busses reduce “normal” vehicle traffic, free up parking spaces, and thereby can improve vehicular mobility. Even if that means you have to make an extra U-turn or two. Busses make it possible for more people to be able to use the same roadway with less congestion. I think if you look at it from other points of view, you will see that cars are not the only mode of transportation, and that other modes of transportation are used and necessary to give people more choice, not less. I drive a car, ride a bike, walk and ride the bus. I use what works best for me for each situation. As bike and bus infrastructure improves, I find myself riding my bike and the bus more. Which is one less car taking up a parking space, one less car impeding traffic. That benefits those of you who prefer or must drive everywhere. BRT will benefit you, even if you never use it.

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