Sun Peak Neighborhood Expresses Concerns About UOP Construction Impacting Their Roads
A number of residents in Sun Peak have expressed concerns about big construction trucks going through their neighborhood, as part of the Utah Olympic Park Mountain Expansion project.
On Monday, they got the news that Summit County had directed the Park operators not to use Sun Peak’s major artery, Bear Hollow Drive.
On Monday afternoon, about 15 to 20 residents in Sun Peak met with Colin Hillton, director of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, and Jamie Kimball, General Manager of the Olympic Park.
Residents said they support the Park also. But they talked about the noise and safety concerns of big trucks going up Bear Hollow Drive, as early as 7:00 in the morning, in a neighborhood that’s already busy from visitors to nearby trailheads.
Hilton said they want to be good neighbors. He had been aware of four or five complaints over the traffic and said he didn’t know how the rest of the neighborhood thinks. But in any event, he said they had been notified, by the county engineer at about 4:00 pm Monday afternoon, to stop using Bear Hollow Drive.
“They have now told us to cease and desist on this effort,” Hilton continued. “And now this is going to delay and cost us more money to do it. And that’s disappointing.”
He said they didn’t receive a formal Cease and Desist Order, but a verbal directive.
Hilton and Kimball said Phase One of the project includes ski run construction, installation of a chair lift and realignment of their entry road. They are importing fill dirt in big trucks for this Phase.
Hilton said that when the Utah Olympic Park was built in the 1990’s, Bear Hollow Drive was the major entry road. The road from the north, Olympic Parkway, was created in about 2000.
Responding to a question from KPCW, County Development Director Pat Putt said in an e-mail that the Construction Mitigation Plan for the Olympic Park expansion specifically requires that the truck routing would use internal Park roads and other public roads, like Bear Hollow Drive are not authorized.
But Hilton and Kimball said in their interpretation of the Mitigation Plan, they are not limited to the north entry road.
They said they only use Bear Hollow, which is gated at the top, when they have no other choice.
Kimball said that the realignment of the regular entry road is reducing it to one lane.
“The way the road switchbacks up through the park, there is one section of road that has bank on one side and drop off on the other,” Kimball said. “So, you literally have two lanes, one up and one down. Both of those lanes have to be completely rebuilt to accommodate the new road. And in order to build that up, we’re currently doing it one half at a time, a little bit on each side. So, we route all of our internal traffic on one side while we build up the other. And every couple of days, we switch over until we get our final grade for the road. There is no other way to get around this section. It is classic bottleneck…and really hindering the ability for us to do any other work on any other section of the road.”
Hilton and Kimball told KPCW that the road realignment is due to be finished by the end of August. The heavier volume of trucks up Bear Hollow is only anticipated during this first Phase, expected to be completed by November, and in future phases they would expect lighter, more intermittent traffic.
Hilton, talking to resident Greg Conway, said he’s balancing the interests of all parties, including thousands of summer visitors to the Olympic Park, and the financial health of the facility.
“I am still, with this facility, trying to get it to a break-even status, so that it doesn’t become a white elephant,” Hilton explained. “We have been able to reduce the operating losses from $3 million down to a million, five. But we’re still subsidizing it to the tune of $1.5 million a year through an operating endowment. So, my balancing act is trying to create a living use of this facility and balance the needs of the community. And there are many right?”
“Right, yeah,” Conway replied. “The bikers we talk about, the skiers.”
“So, I would hope you would think I have your interests in mind.” Hilton finished.
Conway then responded.
“But I do, there’s a balancing—I just totally appreciate the pressure you’re under,” Conway continued. “Because I did read all of the minutes. And I can see most recently there were financial market pressures. You lost a million dollars of your endowment to the market. But… as soon as I hear, “Oh, I have financial pressures” in the context of my kid’s safety, and my neighbor’s safety, and my dog’s safety. That’s uncomfortable to hear, right?”
The Olympic Park representatives said that, given the county’s directive, they will assess the impacts on the project and look for possible solutions.