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County Council Member Examines Options For Kimball Junction Transit

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As we’ve reported, the Summit County Council last week examined four alternatives for revamping Kimball Junction, and they indicated the options they like and the ones they don’t.

Afterward, Council Member Roger Armstrong took a deeper dive into some of those choices.  

At last week’s discussion, Council Members were most in favor of Alternative #3—which would raise the cross-streets of Ute Boulevard and Olympic Parkway, and lower Highway 224.   It would create an uninterrupted flow for traffic off the Interstate headed toward Park City.

Armstrong said that plan has a lot of value.    But he wants to examine what will happen to the areas off 224 if some version of the Dakota Pacific project is developed.     

“There could be more residential in that west side of Kimball Junction.   Whether it’s residential in there or offices in there, at some point, either under the existing Tech Park approvals or what Dakota is approving to be office space.  So you’re gonna have morning and evening commutes in and out of there, whether it’s residential or business.  And when I look at those signalized intersections, I’m just concerned that, again, making the assumption that we have one time to get up to bat with UDOT, that we focus on those signals and determine whether they’re going to lock up traffic as well.”

He said he’d like to take a closer look.

“For people accessing businesses in that area, maybe no signals.   You could make all the right turns could be protected right turns, so that people don’t have to stop.  That would leave, I guess, some possible stoppage for people wanting to make left turns to go into town.  But I think that the more we chip away, the more efficient it makes it.   So I just ask for a little bit more focus on those signals, and the signal, frankly, on top of the overpass on 80."

He said he found Alternative #1, with its network of new lanes, too confusing and complicated.     

“And I’d have to see some more modeling that says that any of that is gonna work, without creating unintended impacts of locking up Kilby Road, making passage in and around the Outlet Mall area, the Whole Foods area, and leading into Wal-Mart without gridlocking.  I just didn’t understand it.   They’ve got so many lanes moving around there.   I spent some time in Arlington, Texas a decade or so ago, and they had some of those frontage roads next to a freeway that was virtually gridlocked.  And it just moved the gridlock off of the freeway and onto those frontage roads."

Council Members pretty much turned down Alternative #2, which had a road edging into the Conservation Easement at the Hi-Ute Ranch.   Some of the group did express interest in one element—a connector road from the Olympic Parkway that would parallel Highway 224 to the west.

Armstrong, however, said he didn’t get it.       

“I don’t understand how it helps.   My experience—I lived in Los Angeles  for a significant number of years.  And I found that every time you open up an additional lane of traffic, it winds up getting pretty filled up.  I think that we’ll probably wind up in that situation if we build roads through the open space.   I think the traffic just is gonna follow the path of least resistance and at some point, the number of bodies that we have in the county will overload those roads.”

He added he’d like a Kimball plan to include Bus Rapid Transit (or BRT).

Alternative #4 involves some short-term solutions.   After reviewing those, Armstrong said he isn’t strongly for or against those options.       

“I just kinda shrugged my shoulders—okay.  Maybe there are short-term fixes.   And if it provides some relief, I don’t think it’s going to significantly move the needle.    I’d like to see where the BRT lines up.  I think that we’ve actually got a shot at reducing some of that traffic volume with BRT and focusing on making that work, and I think that will be subject to discussion with our transit folks.”

Summit County Council Member Roger Armstrong.

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