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UDOT Says Silver Creek Truck Stop Is A Safety Concern

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UDOT

As we’ve reported, Summit County officials and neighboring residents are concerned about the parking area UDOT is creating by the Bell’s station at Silver Creek. They’re concerned that the location, which has been a chain-up area for trucks, will become overnight parking for the big rigs.

But a UDOT spokesman says nothing officially is changing, and the spot has been a pull off area for trucks for decades.

John Gleason, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation, said they’re paving the previously-unkempt area by Bell’s and bringing some supervision to it.

He said it makes perfect sense as a pull-off area, for safety reasons.

“It’s been an area that trucks have pulled off and chained up before they navigate Parley’s Canyon. The idea is to create a safer, more convenient area for truck-drivers to pull-off the freeway.” Gleason continued, “Either wait out the storm, make sure that they’re properly equipped with chains on their tires and in the right mindset to head down Parley’s Canyon. This is an area that sees a lot of truck traffic it makes perfect sense for the location because it’s at the intersection of two major Utah freeways U.S. 40 and I-80 both of which again have quite a bit of truck traffic. The idea is just to make sure that everyone is safe and that we’ve got our eye on the safety of people that are driving in the canyon.”

Gleason said the parking area hasn’t been officially changed, except that they’re improving it.

“If there was a transient issue there before we’re hoping that this is going to improve the situation. We’re upgrading and improving the area.” Gleason explained, “It’s going to be better not only for truck drivers and the safety of everyone who travels in the canyon but also for the people that live and work in the area. It’s going to cut down on the dust, we’ve got a drainage system that has been in there we’ve addressed some of the issues that have been brought to our attention. The reality of it is that it’s not really going to change much. There’s Bells truck stop that has been there for 30 years so this is an area that already sees a tremendous amount of truck traffic.”

He said that they have paved the area, which would have about 40 to 45 stalls for big rigs. They’re putting in barriers and markers to guide traffic. Concerning any controls on idling, Gleason said that’s the county’s jurisdiction, though the state is willing to put up some “No Idling” signs.

He said they have citizen support for a truck area that would operate year-round.

“We actually have received quite a lot of community support for keeping the parking area open year-round.” Gleason said, “We were presented a 14-page petition at the last Summit County UDOT coordination meeting with more than 200 signatures from people who want truck drivers to be able to have access year-round to this area. They understand the safety component involved here. No one wants crashes in Parleys. I think that we all recognize that when we have to shut down Parleys or reduce lanes due to a crash it affects everyone who lives in that area and everyone who’s trying to drive to the canyon.”

Gleason said they’re talking to the county about what kind of gate would allow access, though ideally it would be something year-round.

“We’re working with Summit County and we’re accepting that there may be another way to do it.” Gleason continued, “With the gate being open during the winter months from September through May, is when we generally have all the major winter storms in Parleys canyon. This is an area that sees about 20-25 major storms throughout the year. We want to make it available to truck drivers not just during those chain-up events but anytime that feel like they need to pull over. Wait out the storm if there’s weather that’s concerning or if they just need to pull over and stretch and make sure that they’re in the right mindset to navigate Parley’s Canyon.”

However, one local resident took issue with Gleason’s comments. In an e-mail to KPCW, Susan Roy said the parking area only came into existence a couple of years ago. There was construction on I-80 and the area was scraped off and used for staging.

She said that a short distance west of Silver Creek Junction, there is a pull-off that is a signaled and designated chain-up area.

Roy also recollected that several years ago, UDOT and the Bells station talked about setting up a designated Rest Area. But it was opposed by residents who didn’t want more truck idling. She wrote, “It didn’t happen. Now it looks like this is going to happen through the back door.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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