Meeting about Bitner Road connection in Snyderville Basin draws large crowd
A Summit County Council discussion on Wednesday about the construction of a new road to connect residents in the Silver Creek area with other neighborhoods throughout Kimball Junction drew a large, standing-room only crowd.
More than 100 people jammed into the conference room at the Sheldon Richins Building for the meeting, with many sitting on the floor or standing in the hallway. Approximately 1,500 notices were sent to residents in the surrounding neighborhoods before the meeting.
The hour-long discussion focused on the four potential alignments — frontage road, Valley Drive, Church Street and Wasatch Way — that are being considered to link the Silver Creek neighborhood with Bitner Ranch Road. Residents currently have to use Interstate 80 to reach Bitner Ranch Road or other areas in Kimball Junction.
County Council members reviewed each route’s cost of construction, as well as the effect of additional traffic on nearby homes. The matter was listed on the agenda as a work session item with the possibility of a decision. No action was taken, but the County Council did accept comments from nearly a dozen people.
The county has been exploring the idea of building a road north of Interstate 80 to connect Silver Creek and Bitner Ranch roads for several years. One of the main purposes of the road would be to improve access to Silver Creek for emergency responders, according to county staffers.
But, the idea raised several critical questions about road maintenance and the improvements that would be necessary along Silver Creek and Bitner Ranch roads to handle the additional traffic.
The preferred route for emergency responders, particularly the Park City Fire District, would be to extend the frontage road. However, that scenario would bisect the Bitner Ranch property. Kerry Bitner, representing the Bitner Ranch, told Council members the idea is offensive.
“I won’t belabor the point, but we have a heritage and we have been on this property since 1908,” he said during the meeting. “To see it cut in half with a frontage road … it’s obscene.”
Ted Barnes, who was also at the meeting to represent the Bitner Ranch, said the family’s preference would be for the county not to build a road. However, he said, the family recognizes the county’s interest in pursuing the project and, instead, offered an alternative alignment from those that are being considered.
Pete Gillwald, the Bitner family’s planner, suggested a hybrid route that would use both Church Street and the Valley View connection. He said it would only impact four properties and would require about 1,200 fewer feet of road.
“It’s just something to throw out there as a consideration,” he said. “The Bitner family is willing to discuss this as an alternative to having a road that dissects their property. The Valley View route impacts the most number of homes, but by going north we eliminate that potential conflict.”
Robert Olson, treasurer of the Summit County Service Area No. 3 Board of Trustees, said he approached the county about building a new road to provide residents an alternative route to exit Silver Creek. He suggested the route stay as far north as possible to avoid the bottleneck that is created near the Bell’s Silver Creek gas station.
“The frontage road does not provide that exit we need to have,” he said. “But, I do support the proposal that was just made by the Bitner family.”
Some of the other concerns that were raised during the comment period included questions about the impact a 25- to 35-mph road would have on neighborhoods with small children, as well as the amount of traffic a connection could generate.
The County Council ultimately agreed to revisit the matter during a future work session.
“We have a lot of things to discuss,” County Council Chair Kim Carson said. “There were some very good points that were brought up, and I think we need to take a fresh look at this.”
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Bruce Erickson, the planning director at City Hall, has died, the municipal government said. Erickson was involved at some level in nearly all the major decisions regarding growth and development in Park City since the early 1990s.