A number of residents in the Pinebrook and Jeremy Ranch communities are concerned about the safety of pedestrians, especially near the intersection of Homestead and Rasmussen Roads. Among solutions proposed, a pedestrian underpass beneath Interstate 80 is one of them.
The cause has been gaining steam via social media in the last month. A month ago, a Facebook Community Group called 'Park City Pedestrian Passage' was formed, and has since garnered 152 likes. The group's purpose is:
"The Pinebrook and Jeremy Ranch freeway on and off ramps and surrounding intersections are very congested and dangerous for pedestrians and bike riders. This page is dedicated to help raise awareness and address [the] problem to get it fixed!"
The creator of the page and driving force behind the awareness campaign is Jeremy Ranch resident Jennifer Terry. Terry claims she is "not a politician, just a mom," and describes this push for greater pedestrian access as a "grassroots movement" in her community.
Summit County Engineer Derrick Radke said that the county currently has a concept plan to help address traffic issues around Homestead Rd. at the Jeremy Ranch exit off I-80 that involves implementing four roundabouts. The project would include pedestrian improvements and sidewalks, but the county needs the Utah Department of Transportation to sign off on the plan.
One of the proposed schematics for addressing pedestrian concerns can be seen on Terry's Facebook page. It involves a bike path that would feature a tunnel underneath Homestead Rd. with another tunnel going under Rasmussen Rd.
Another schematic shows two pedestrian underpasses crossing underneath I-80, connecting Jeremy Ranch with Pinebrook. Both would stretch from Rasmussen Rd. to Kilby Rd. and could involve wildlife fencing that would be placed alongside I-80.
"We have four schools in this immediate area. We all have kids younger than middle school and younger," Terry said. "They all like to ride their bikes to school and they can't. Jeremy Ranch [Elementary] has the least amount of kids riding their bikes to school because it's simply unsafe."
Radke said a tunnel could be very expensive, but the county would need to study the costs to see if it could be feasible. The county, he said, is currently not budgeting for construction, but rather for design. Approval would have to come from UDOT.
"We looked at this five-plus years ago and everybody was gung-ho to go [forward with the roundabouts]. Then traffic went down a bit and UDOT had other funding priorities," Radke said.
Summit County Transportation Engineer Kent Wilkerson said the county would not implement four roundabouts without a pedestrian passageway. He is aware of residents' concerns and encourages dialogue on the subject.
"The biggest frustration is the fact that there are no pedestrian ways in that area," Wilkerson said. "The current Master Plan calls for pedestrian improvements any time we do projects. We're open to looking at alternatives."
Terry said she knows that Park City is a proponent of trail interconnectivity, but she said the Jeremy Ranch community, in particular, is "neglected" in this way.
"We need more non-motorized paths in our area," Terry said. "All I want is to have that pedestrian access included into the giant design before they start. If they do that whole design and [don't] include that pedestrian passage, it'll take another 10 years for them to retrofit something."
Wilkerson said the county wants to work with the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District in addressing pedestrian issues such as these, and updating the Snyderville Basin Recreation and Trails Master Plan may be one step in that direction.
Terry said she simply wants to raise awareness about the pedestrian issues around Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook and that many residents would find such underpasses beneficial.
"I'm thinking that the traffic reduction would be significant if kids could ride to school," Terry said. "I want to raise awareness that there is a need for this. Maybe my ideas aren't perfect and maybe somebody has a better idea of how to solve the problem. I want this to be a win-win for everybody."