Road widening project threatens to tear down historic Payson homes

PAYSON, Utah - For the past 14 years, Cora Lee Wilson has opened up her home in Payson to everyone during the Onion Days parade.

It’s a tradition that may not last if the Utah Department of Transportation decides to widen Main Street.

They’re friends, relatives, they’re friends of relatives and they’re friends of friends,” Wilson said Monday outside the historic family home.

In addition to serving breakfast this year for the city festivities, Wilson had maps from UDOT, letting her neighbors know the options that are being considered to improve the traffic flow through the small town of Payson.

“A lot of people are saying they’ll never tear down Main Street. Well they could. They’ve done it in other towns,” Wilson said.

One of the four options would involve widening Main Street, making it a five lane road. Stakes mark the spot where the sidewalk would end, which would mean tearing down the home that was built by Wilson’s great-great grandfather in 1896.

“When you have roots as deep as mine go you can’t help but have it be part of you,” Wilson said.

It would also mean demolishing the John Dixon house, where Scott Perkins lives with his wife. The home was built in 1894 and is part of the National Historic Registry of homes.

“Unfortunately we found out firsthand that there’s not a lot of protection there. There’s other government agencies that trump the National Historic Registry,” Perkins said.

While celebrating the holiday with her neighbors, Wilson is encouraging them to weigh the options and sign a petition. She hopes UDOT takes another route around the historic home her family has lived in for generations.

“It would be devastating. It would take a part of my heart out,” Wilson said.

Whatever option UDOT chooses will still need to go through another impact study and public comment.