Decision about Silver Creek to Bitner Road connection delayed until at least November
A second access point for the Silver Creek neighborhood has been discussed for at least a decade, and after the Summit County Council’s meeting last week, a decision about any future connection will have to wait until at least Nov. 6.
That’s when the County Council scheduled the next meeting on the topic, which would be at least the fifth.
Some of the approvals in the neighborhood north of the U.S. 40/Interstate 80 intersection date back to the mid-1960s, Councilor Kim Carson said, and would not have been approved today.
Pat Putt, the county’s community development director, said having only the single access point is a serious problem and one that the county needs to solve.
“If we were going to contemplate another residential neighborhood like Silver Creek now, 500 to 600 units, we would never contemplate that with one point of access,” Putt said. “We wish there would be an ideal solution. … I think we’d be trying to fool you if we said there was one.”
The meeting was so crowded that County Council Chair Roger Armstrong asked any county staff that didn’t need to be there to leave to make room for those who had come to weigh in on the issue. The public comment period lasted for about two hours.
County staff had prepared four options for a second way into and out of the neighborhood, largely the same ones that have been proposed since 2015. They all connect the one existing access point, Silver Creek Road, with the roughly parallel Bitner Ranch Road, about a mile to the west.
Staff ruled out two of those options, leaving a new frontage road running near Interstate 80 or a road near a proposed church as potential solutions.
A second access point is necessary to maintain public safety, county staff members said.
Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt wrote in a text message that a second connection would cut response times to the neighborhood in half from the Bitner Fire Station. And if the single access point was blocked, emergency personnel would have no other quick way into or out of the neighborhood.
That could happen in the case of an emergency that blocks the road, or for more mundane reasons like road maintenance.
Public Works Director Derrick Radke said one option would be to pursue a 70- to 80-foot easement that would allow for a two-lane road with paved shoulders and two separate recreation paths. He estimated the cost difference between the Church Street and frontage road options would be a few hundred thousand dollars, with the total project costing $2.5 million to $3 million. It would also come with increased maintenance costs.
One downside to the frontage road is it would cut across the Bitner Ranch. That might mean securing a right-of-way easement would be difficult. And Carson, a Silver Creek resident, said the county has taken pains to avoid imperiling the county’s heritage by effectively cutting the historic ranch in half.
County Councilors called for another public meeting Nov. 6. A group of Silver Creek residents were invited to report back with findings about what options their neighbors would prefer.
Armstrong said he was anxious to get to a resolution, as the decision has been delayed since at least 2015 and it threatens residents’ safety.
“There’s probably not a route … that is among any of the now five alternates that we’ve been presented that everybody in Silver Creek would stand up and say, ‘Yes! That’s the one,” Armstrong said. “We’re trying to find a route that would satisfy the safety needs of the area and … have the least impact as we can on homeowners in the area.”
The Council expects to hear of new alternatives at the Nov. 6 meeting and it is unclear whether a decision will be made at that time.
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