KPCW has reported on the Utah Department of Transportation study highlighting SR 224 as the 5th most dangerous spot in the state for vehicle/wildlife collisions. The Park City non-profit, Save People Save Wildlife continues to advocate for mitigation efforts to protect people and wildlife along the Wasatch Back.
Save People Save Wildlife met with UDOT for the second time in two months to discuss how to improve safety conditions on the two-mile stretch of SR 224. Elk, Deer and Moose are habitually crossing the roadway as it’s part of a natural migration route for the ungulates. Morning crossings of the elk herd are daily and KPCW frequently alerts drivers of the movement as they follow migration routes from the McPolin Farm to Round Valley.
UDOT reduced the speed limit to 45 miles per hour along the same two-mile stretch in the fall of 2019. It’s not a permanent change until UDOT completes their evaluation of the impacts which will happen by this summer. SPSW board member Tom Farkas says they’re hoping UDOT will keep the speed limit at 45 and install permanent feedback signs along with crossing alerts.
“Research and luckily common sense has shown that at lower speed limit would help somewhat in reducing the vehicle wildlife collisions. Unfortunately actually some people complained about that and I think it should be pointed out for those that maybe think it's annoying for that distance of roadway to go from 55 to 45 is only going to slow down their travel time by like 14 seconds.”
Lorelei Combs is a founding member of the SPSW board and says they’re hopeful UDOT will finish their study and keep the lower speed.
“The commitment we got is they still have three months left to their survey and in three months then they will determine if the speed limit is to be increased back, they would not do it until one year of when it started to be reduced. So that would be next fall, but they felt strongly at this point that they had no intention of wanting to increase it.”
Combs says her group wants UDOT to install a traffic light at the intersection of White Pine Canyon Road by the St. Mary’s Catholic Church. They’re considering the proposal.
For many years, UDOT has proposed that Park City take ownership of SR 224. This way Park City would have jurisdiction over all projects. Farkas says regardless of who owns the road, a wildlife bridge would still be feasible.
“They actually own the property on both sides of 224. So, if there were something like a wildlife overpass, which Save People Save Wildlife has recommended, there wouldn't be an issue of having to deal with private property owners and getting that done.”
SPSW has worked with officials from UDOT’s Region 2 (which includes Summit county) and they’ve had success with the installation of a wildlife bridge at the top of Parley’s Summit. The recent UDOT study results show Region 3, which is Wasatch County, has several top danger zones for collisions. SPSW have their sights set on Wasatch County hot spots and hope to begin working with UDOT’s Region 3 officials.
A link to Save People save Wildlife can be found here.