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Summit Council Transportation Talk Includes Overpass, Rail Trail

courtesy of Summit County

The Summit County Council on November 20th officially approved their Active Transportation Plan.

Council Members also discussed some interesting questions for the future—such as whether they can get a pedestrian crossing over 224, and if there might be a new role for the Rail/Trail.  

County Council Chairman Roger Armstrong told KPCW their Active Transportation Plan is setting a number of goals and priorities—in several cases, projects that will take a number of years to achieve.

He said they know that residents of Sun Peak have been concerned about pedestrians crossing the 224 highway near the Blue Roof intersection.    And the Council recognizes there’s a need.

The Transportation Plan calls for a study to look at three possible locations—at the Blue Roof, the intersection to Old Ranch Road and the entry to the Canyons.

But 224 is a state highway and for UDOT a major criteria is safety.   Armstrong noted that a pedestrian/car fatality occurred at the Canyons a few years ago.

But County Transportation Manager Caroline Rodriguez told Council on Wednesday the state’s data don’t show a problem at the Blue Roof.        

“And this is purely data-based.   This is not anecdotal.  This is not a perception of intersection.  This is just the data that UDOT had, is that—there has never been an accident between a pedestrian and a vehicle at 224 and Silver Spring Drive.  There was one interaction, and it wasn’t even from someone on 224.  It was someone making a right out of Silver Spring Drive onto 224, and they clipped a pedestrian in the crosswalk.”

County Council Member Kim Carson said that 224 is likely not a big priority for UDOT because their major crossing problems are in dense urban areas, with roads like the Bangerter Highway.

Rodriguez said a 224 crossing will likely involve federal NEPA requirements which will take at least a year to deal with.    And the cost will probably fall on the county.        

“We would carry 100 percent of the cost, unless of course we went after a grant ourselves.  But I think it would be a very heavy lift to ask UDOT to participate in the cost of that crossing, because when they compare it to their other needs, not only in the region but state-wide, they said that a crossing there would be nowhere in the ballpark of meeting their warrant criteria for pedestrian volume, vehicle volume, crash history, roadway conditions, speed limit, land uses or cost.”

Armstrong said the county staff has recommended that a crossing should be an overpass, not a tunnel.        

“Because of the Olympics, when 224 was upgraded, there’s an awful lot of infrastructure in the road there.    There’s gray cable they put in, fiber-optic cable that offer those great connections, internet connections here, and a lot of other stuff under the ground there.   So the report that we got several years ago to go underneath at the Blue Roof was something over $4 million at that time.  Then we get into the discussions of, is an overpass over 224—and we don’t have any of those—is that something that the public  wants to see and is willing to live with.”

Another option discussed by Council is paving the Park City/Summit County rail/trail.   Armstrong said that change to the 18.7-mile link could help transform it from a recreation corridor to a transportation corridor.        

“The Rail Trail is there, it’s something that has a fairly high degree of use.  Can we connect neighborhoods with that, can we provide that as another means of active transportation?   I know that our county planner, Pat Putt, rides his bicycle on the Trailside area to work during the summertime on the Rail Trail and loves it.”

On the plus side, he said they could perhaps get federal funding.    But there’s also a legal issue, since it is a state park.

We asked Armstrong if a paved trail could accommodate other users, like horse riders.        

“Well, we have 100 feet of right-of-way there.   So you could pave a portion of it.  You could leave a portion of it as dirt for equestrian and other uses.  I think you could truly make that a multi-use trail.  And Caroline and I think Doug Clyde were talking about the Coachella Trail in California which is a paved trail, a fairly long paved trail that has a variety of uses, anything that you can conceive of that’s essentially non-motorized they’re using on that trail.”

Summit County Council Chairman Roger Armstrong

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.