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Future Bitner to Silver Creek connector named 'Mammoth Drive'

Residents packed Mountain Life Church Thursday night to hear from county engineers (left) and the contractors who will build the Bitner Ranch Road and Silver Creek Road connector.
Bailey Edelstein
Summit County
Residents packed Mountain Life Church Thursday night to hear from county engineers (left) and the contractors who will build the Bitner Ranch Road and Silver Creek Road connector.

Many Silver Creek area residents voiced skepticism about plans to build a road connecting the neighborhood north of Interstate 80 to Kimball Junction.

Over 50 residents gathered in the foyer of Mountain Life Church Thursday night to hear about a new road connecting Bitner Ranch Road and Silver Creek Road. Construction starts next month.

County Engineer Mike Kendell said the public information session was a kick-off event for the project. The county and the Geneva Rock construction team released a tentative schedule, along with the new road’s name: Mammoth Drive.

The name is derived from the Ice Age-era remains found in the field the road will cross, including a mammoth’s tooth Allan Lewis found in his backyard in 1963.

Mammoth Drive would connect Bitner Ranch Road and Silver Creek Road, giving motorists a second option to get back and forth other than getting on Interstate 80.

In the long run, it could help mitigate traffic in an area ripe for development, but many of the attendees Thursday night raised concerns.

The project has a decade-long history, including land acquisitions by the county and some resident pushback. In one case, the county almost resorted to eminent domain before settling with a landowner.

Most of the questions were about the immediate effects of the construction process. Next month, Silver Creek Road will see delays.

The contractors said they will implement one-way slowdowns with temporary stop lights only when necessary.

“This goes to the whole project: we’re not going to ‘one-way’ just for the heck of it,” the contractor said.

One audience member asked why not work at night. The team said per contract, they could not work at night, so as not to disturb the neighborhood, to which the person asked why not poll the neighborhood about it first.

The final product will be an elevated road, with sporadic stormwater crossings underneath it. The connector will be one-way each way, with 6-foot shoulders, 11-foot lanes and an 8-foot-wide trail running beside it.

Bitner Ranch Road and Silver Creek Road are getting widened and reconstructed too, and there will be a trail running the length of Bitner up to the new roundabout at Mammoth Drive.

Right now, Mammoth Drive’s speed limit will be 35 miles per hour. Some residents said they thought that was too fast, especially because it’s 25 mph when motorists get off U.S. Highway 40 onto Silver Creek Road.

Kendell said the county engineer does not set speed limits. The authority with the power to change those is the Summit County Council.

Residents asked about Valley Drive, which appears to connect to Mammoth Drive in maps put out by the county. The engineers said there will be curbing to discourage traffic from continuing down the dirt road.

One attendee quipped “the best part about the whole project” is the increase in mailboxes. The roundabout on Silver Creek Road will go where residents’ mailboxes currently are.

The mailboxes will be relocated closer to Valley Drive and increase in number from 570 to 760, plus 128 larger boxes for parcels.

“It will be significantly bigger and they will be a lot more protected,” Kendell said.

Officials reported the mailboxes were targeted by thieves at least twice last year.

The meeting ran about an hour, wrapping up just before 7 p.m. One man summed up his impression on his way out the door, with what seemed like begrudging approval.

“You did a great job on a tough topic,” he said, followed by a smattering of applause.

The tentative construction schedule kicks off with the Silver Creek Road reconstruction next month. The team will reconstruct Bitner Ranch Road this fall.

Then in 2024 the actual connector is slated to go in.

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