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Summit Council Member Robinson Comments, As Silver Creek Connector Route Finally Chosen

Leslie Thatcher

Summit County Council Member Chris Robinson  joined three of his colleagues Jan. 22nd to choose a road alignment linking up lower Silver Creek to the Bitner Frontage Road.

Robinson said he was glad the decision was finally made, because the controversy has gone on way too long.

As we’ve reported, most of the County Council voted for the Church Street alignment, somewhat further up the hill from lower Silver Creek.    One dissenter, Council Member Doug Clyde, favored the Frontage Road alternative, which parallels Interstate 80.

As Robinson noted, several residents favored the Frontage Road, saying the only reason for a new route was securing an emergency second access for First Responders.      

“Some of the opponents, for their own special interests—y-know the world goes around by special interest, just have to look at where people live to determine what their position was—they tried to narrow the argument to saying, ah it’s 3 to 4 minutes transit time for an ambulance or fire engine from the Bitner Station with this alignment, and it’s 4 to 6 minutes with that alignment.  And therefore, it’s all about emergency, go there.”

Robinson said if emergency access was their only goal, they could provide just a gated road.   But he said the county had other objectives.        

“We had multiple objectives, including connecting neighborhoods, providing multiple modes of transportation, including trails for jogging, biking, equestriens, kind of a scenic byway, kind of an Old Ranch Road feel running through there.”

Robinson said he was for the Frontage Road option, maybe a year and a half ago.   But some issues changed his mind—such as the impact the road would have on the high-density nearby neighborhood of East Creek Ranch.

He also looked at how it would affect lower Silver Creek around the Bell’s Station.       

“The other two compelling things for me are the distance that the Frontage Road has from the interchange of U.S. 40 and I-80.  Just not enough stacking room.   And the congestion that’s already there that would dump onto Division Street at Bell’s Service at the UDOT chain-up and truck parking, and everything going on there.”

Finally, he said a big factor was the Frontage Road bisecting the Bitner Ranch, a historic agricultural area they’re trying to conserve.     

“I think the Frontage Road, if the Bitners wanted to develop their property, would have been a great catalyst for so doing.  They would have had a road going right through the middle of it with high traffic volumes.  The Frontage Road, because it would be a little more convenient, would induce more people to take it, which was another factor.    It’s a two-edged sword.  You build a Frontage Road, I guess, so you want a lot of people to take it.  But if a lot of people take it, too many then at the intersection of Division Street, and where U.S. 40 comes into 80 fails.”

Another factor, he said, is the county would have had to go through condemnation to cut through the Ranch.

The Church Street alternative will impact the Mountain Life Evangelical Church, some of the Bitner land, and three other properties.    However, the route won’t come as close to residential dwellings as the Frontage alternative.      

“We’re gonna have an 80-foot right-of-way, with shoulders, bike lanes, trails, snow storage areas and two travel lanes.  It’s going to have its own buffrering that’ll do some mitigating within the Right-of-Way.”

The county will spend this year designing the connector road and securing rights-of-way.   Robinson said construction will take place in 2021, or 2022, and with luck the job could be done in one year.

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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