Jeremy Ranch roundabouts, slowed by soil conditions, aim to open this winter |

Jeremy Ranch roundabouts, slowed by soil conditions, aim to open this winter

(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

Crews working on the $13 million project to create two massive roundabouts, one on either side of Interstate 80 at the Jeremy Ranch/Pinebrook interchange, are racing to make the infrastructure drivable before winter weather begins in earnest.

Summit County Public Works Director Derrick Radke said that major portions of the project will be delayed until next year, but the goal is to have functional roundabouts throughout the winter.

Considering unforeseen challenges, Radke said, the contractor has done a reasonably good job.

“I expected to be a little bit further along,” Radke said, “but I was probably being optimistic.”

Progress at this point is all weather dependent, he said, but he believed the goal was attainable to have everything tied together so that the roundabouts are functional this winter, doing away with the cumbersome four-way stop signs and detours that can delay drivers.

He added that, should weather move in sooner than expected and make construction work impossible, crews are considering stopgap measures like temporary paving to make the project work. He said funding for that would come from the project’s contingency fund, which also paid for costs due to unanticipated soil conditions.

Radke mentioned several challenges that have hindered the project, including securing enough labor and the exact location of utility lines. He said there had been a few utility strikes, though the high-pressure gas line that crews were surprised to find five feet further south than it was marked was not damaged.

The biggest challenge, though, and the one that added 17 unanticipated days to the project, was the soil condition crews found several feet underground.

“When we excavated down … we found the clay level down there just sock full of water,” Radke explained. “Can’t build a new road over the top of goo.”

That forced crews to excavate one to three feet deeper than anticipated, fill that void with rock, install a stabilizing fabric and then build the road on top. The added time has pushed past a contractually stipulated Oct. 26 date by which the project was supposed to be substantially completed.

The deadline now is the one enforced by Mother Nature. Some work can proceed as temperatures fall, he said, but asphalt is particularly susceptible to the cold, with strict temperature guidelines about when it can be poured that aim to preserve the road’s longevity.

Radke said the landscaping will wait until next spring and assumed the new eastbound on-ramp would be pushed to next year, as well.

He said crews had not begun the structure for the pedestrian/bike underpass under that on-ramp, but that work can proceed deeper into winter, as concrete is better suited to cold temperatures.

The project calls for three underpasses, including a $1.5 million path under Kilby Road paid for by the Snyderville Basin Recreation District. Concrete for that tunnel was poured in August. Radke said excavation for the trails connecting the tunnels could continue into winter, but paving them would likely occur next year. The plan is to construct a trail behind the Jeremy Ranch Elementary School that would allow students to bypass the busy roads nearby.

Both roundabouts have been paved, but the final layer will come next year when all the roads have been tied in, leaving them about two inches lower than their final level.

Crews are working on Rasmussen Road as well as the westbound on-ramp, Radke said, and are planning to pave the south side tie-in to Kilby Road Thursday. Once that’s in place, they will work to tie in Pinebrook Boulevard into the roundabout as well as Homestead Road.

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