High schooler advances Kimball Junction pedestrian safety
Pedestrian traffic beacons will be installed at the Ute Boulevard and Landmark Drive roundabout in Kimball Junction this summer, thanks in part to a Park City high schooler.
Erin Bratcher is a graduating senior at Park City High School, who presented a pedestrian safety proposal to the Summit County Council earlier this month.
When Bratcher learned to drive, her mom warned her about a particular intersection in Kimball Junction: the roundabout at Ute Boulevard and Landmark Drive.
Bratcher says it's dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians. Talking with her family and conducting informal surveys on Facebook showed it wasn’t just her, either.
“As I got older, and I drove more, and I heard more about it, and I just thought, you know, I would really hate for something to happen here,” she said.
Bratcher said she initially reached out to the county’s public works department about the issue around the beginning of 2022, when it was still under Derek Radke.
But Radke retired, and she had to represent her ideas and concerns to a new cohort under John Angell. She said he was proactive in assigning her to work with Steve Dennis, a county commercial development reviewer.
Together, Bratcher and Dennis considered different ways to improve the intersection. They presented the idea to the Summit County Council May 3 for their approval.
Bratcher said it’s not only a pedestrian issue. Cars braking suddenly for pedestrians creates gridlock, or worse, accidents.
“It causes these buildups around the intersection, and it just creates a lot of chaos,” she said.
Dennis said the county’s data shows 13,000 vehicles go through the intersection daily, half of them speeding.
“So not only are we at 25 miles per hour, which would be a pretty significant collision between a person and a vehicle, we’re upwards of that,” he said.
She went to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office in June 2022 to see if there were accident reports at the intersection, and there had been six in the previous six months.
The solution she and the county settled on was traffic beacons. They’re like the normal yellow crosswalk signs, but pedestrians can press a button to trigger flashing yellow lights that alert drivers a pedestrian is crossing.
There’s already a similar set-up down Landmark Drive by Whole Foods, an example Bratcher cited in her presentation.
The new beacons will be similar, and they’ll go in at two particular crosswalks on the intersection’s north and east sides.
There are two reasons to focus on those crosswalks: the budget is tight and they’re the ones actually getting used. They link the Wal-Mart, Kimball Junction Transit Center and the library.
The council was convinced and unanimously approved the plan May 3. The parts have been ordered and construction will start as soon as they arrive.
Bratcher said that means beacons could be on the signs early this summer.
The project is wrapping up at the same time as her high school career. Bratcher will graduate with her classmates June 2 and is planning to attend Penn State in the fall.