Building roads was Olympic-sized task
February 8, 2012
When enjoying the smooth flow of traffic through Kimball Junction, thank the Olympics. And when waiting for the county-wide bus in a nice shelter, well the Olympics helped with that too.
The 2002 Utah Winter Olympic Games didn’t just bring crowds to Summit County, but road improvements, bus shelters and pedestrian walkways, all of which benefited from federal and state funding earmarked for Olympic infrastructure support and continues to benefit Summit County today.
Adan Carrillo, a spokesperson for UDOT, added that the state also repaved State Road 224 from Bear Hollow to Marsac Avenue and helped construct a park-and-ride near Silver Creek.
According to Summit County Public Works Director Kevin Callahan, improvements that were scheduled to be made on county and state roads were expedited and paid for by the state in order to ensure that transportation and transportation-facilities were in good condition and would reduce the amount of Olympic traffic.
"The Utah Department of Transportation came in and built the fly-over at the U.S. 40, Interstate 80 interchange and did a lot of work on the Kimball Junction intersection to make sure people could get off I-80 and enter Park City easily," Callahan said. "They upgraded major roads and built the road leading up to the Olympic Sports Park [Olympic Parkway] and then deeded it over to the county when they were done. They also built the pedestrian overpass at Kimball Junction which probably would have been paid for and built by Basin Recreation had the state not done it for the Olympics."
There wasn’t much along the frontage road of U.S. 40 prior to the Olympics but once UDOT constructed the park-and-ride and fixed up the road, it allowed the area to grow, said Callahan.
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"That was the quiet side of the Basin," he said. "It probably would have been built at some point, but it was not on our radar and construction would have been a few years out if the state had not helped with it."
In addition to infrastructure, Callahan and others say that planning for the 2002 Winter Olympics forced local agencies to work together and that may be one of the most positive legacies left by the games.
"All the institutions began working cooperatively to solve problems," he said. "Summit County partnered with Park City on the transit system and saw it grow by almost 50 percent. We knew there was going to be an additional need for residents to get around during the Olympics and that partnership is still around today."
Robbie Beck, who worked as the Summit County Olympic Coordinator during the Games agreed with Callahan, saying all the entities in the area did their part to make sure the events went off without a hitch.
"It wasn’t just the roads or agencies that were improved," Beck said. "The Games greatly enhanced sports in Utah and put us on the map as a sports Mecca. We have taken all the venues from the Olympics and made them not just about elite athletes, but utilized them as public facilities that can be used for youth development as well."
Looking toward the future, the Utah Olympic Sports Park is hoping to expand its offerings by building athlete housing, a medical and training facility and offices.
Colin Hilton with the Olympic Legacy Foundation said that by adding the additional facilities, the Olympic Park will be able to make its Olympic endowment last longer.
"Today, the endowment that is left from the Olympics to help run the Olympic Park and the Olympic Oval is about $64 million," he said. "We have a budget of $10 million a year for both facilities with about half of that coming from fundraising and user fees and half from the proceeds off the endowment. We are anticipating that our endowment will last us until 2030 but if we build the housing and other facilities, I think we will be able to sustain ourselves and continue our developmental and training programs for a long time."