Brown’s Canyon Road to get a traffic light next spring, UDOT officials say
State officials announced Tuesday their intention to install a traffic light at the intersection of Brown’s Canyon Road and S.R. 248 as early as next spring, a welcome development at the high-speed, four-way intersection that has been the sight of many traffic accidents.
The project will also lower the speed limit in that stretch from 65 mph to 55 mph, said Courtney Samuel, a Utah Department of Transportation spokesperson.
“There’s quite a bit of growth that’s happening, that’s planned (in the area). We looked at that — it’s going to make a significant difference in the amount of traffic coming this way,” Samuel said. “Our traffic engineer thought it was appropriate to get that signal in place prior to that development happening.”
The intersection connects Park City with South Summit County as S.R. 248 heads to the Kamas Valley and Brown’s Canyon Road proceeds northeast stoward Peoa and Oakley.
It has been the site of several accidents, including a particularly violent crash in June that sent a man to the hospital and prompted a nearby resident to start a petition for a traffic light there, with nearly 1,000 signers to date.
Many residents wrote on the petition that the intersection is dangerous and that those waiting at stop signs attempting to enter the 65 mph state road often have to wait several minutes for an opportunity to do so.
“If you are trying to cross over Highway 248 from either Jordanelle Parkway or Browns Canyon, you’re doing so on a wing and a prayer with vehicles coming at you from both directions at the rate of 65-80 mph,” the petition states.
“This will save lives!” one petitioner wrote.
Samuel said that part of UDOT’s mandate is to incorporate feedback from the community.
“Any time that the public voices concerns, it is our job to listen to concerns and look for any engineering solutions to improve safety,” he said.
UDOT last looked at the intersection in 2018, but the traffic study conducted then found that the intersection was not busy enough to warrant a signal and that it wasn’t particularly close to needing one. The traffic volume metric that came closest to warranting a signal was 18% short of the agency’s target.
Samuel said earlier this summer that UDOT had planned to revisit that study as conditions changed with development, and that the agency began a new study in June.
That study was just finished, and Samuel said the agency determined a signal is warranted because of the traffic increases UDOT expects in coming years.
“Obviously there’s development happening now, but we wanted to get a really good look at what are the surrounding developments. Those obviously drive traffic. That was kind of a more in-depth study, (which is) why this took a little bit longer, to get all that info from the county and governments and private developers: ‘OK what’s happening here in the next year, in the next five years, 10 years?’” Samuel said.
There are more than 700 residential units entitled at the entrance to Brown’s Canyon on the east side of S.R. 248, and thousands more in the greater Jordanelle Reservoir area, as well as projects in eastern Summit County municipalities.
A 2016 Wasatch County staff report indicated the Brown’s Canyon/S.R. 248 intersection would likely fail when a special event like a hockey game let out from an arena currently under construction there.
Officials from the Military Installation Development Authority and the SkyRidge Development — representing projects on the west and north sides of the reservoir, respectively — said they shared traffic studies and engineering information with UDOT to help guide the agency’s decision.
Samuel said UDOT engineers also adjusted for decreased traffic levels related to the pandemic.
Hilary Reiter, who organized the petition in June following the near-fatal accident at the intersection, said she was excited to hear the news and was sure her neighbors would be, as well.
“Nearly 1,000 people signed the petition I started, and I am thrilled to hear that may have impacted UDOT’s decision to address this increasingly busy intersection. It just goes to show that if people speak up, government agencies are forced to listen and take action,” Reiter wrote in an email to The Park Record. “I am glad UDOT agreed to conduct the study this summer, and hope they deliver in making the intersection safer.”
Reiter added that she wished the agency would lower the speed limit to 45 mph rather than 55 mph, and hoped that enforcement would accompany the change.
Samuel said the traffic signal would cost around $350,000, about double the usual cost at a traditional four-way intersection, and that UDOT would pay for it.
The agency plans to install signs warning drivers when the traffic light will turn red, he said, which add to the cost. The project is still being designed, he said, and officials are considering whether to allow for a potential eventual widening of the road by placing the signal poles farther outside the roadway.
There will be designated pedestrian crossings on at least three of the intersection’s sides, and Samuel said one of the concerns is how long it would take someone to walk across the road, which stretches to seven lanes at the intersection.
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