Plan for 3rd lane scares cyclists
Reducing traffic congestion at Kimball Junction might make bicycling in the area too dangerous, trail advocates say.
"We did a really good job with these very wide shoulders and they’re very used by the bicycle community and we would hate to have a chunk of that taken out," Mountain Trails Foundation chief Carol Potter said. "I want to make sure that, for these bicyclists, what we’ve got we keep."
At issue is whether striping three lanes instead of two on each side on State Road 224 from Cutter Lane to Interstate 80 would cut rush-hour gridlock.
"It’s not the perfect solution," Summit County Engineer Derrick Radke said. "Any kind of bike traffic would have to be traveling in the same lane (as cars)."
County officials planning to widen the highway hoped transportation money earmarked this year by the state would help fund the improvements.
"[The state] basically told us that most of those monies are earmarked for other projects," Radke said.
But a third lane could be added to S.R. 224 when the road is resurfaced this summer, he said.
"I don’t see it as a big deal," Radke said.
Still, the plan puts bicyclists at Kimball Junction at risk, Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said.
"There will be no shoulder for bike traffic whatsoever," he said. "I’m just very concerned about eliminating bicycle traffic from that area."
Commuters have a difficult enough time cycling from Snyderville to Park City, Parkite Todd Henneman said.
"Instead of making room for more cars, how about have a nice lane so people can use alternative transportation," Henneman said. "How about other ways to unlock the gridlock by not putting more cars on the road? It’s almost a no-brainer."
The road shoulder provides cyclists "enough room there that we can actually feel somewhat comfortable not being so close to traffic," he explained.
"If people feel a little more safe about using their bike to ride in from the junction, they might be more inclined to do it," Henneman said. "I ride that road enough to know that I don’t want the shoulder to go away."
To accommodate growth, traffic studies in western Summit County show nearly $100 million in road improvements could be necessary within 25 years. The plan includes widening S.R. 224.
When they meet Wednesday commissioners could decide whether to eliminate the road shoulders.
"It sure is appealing because it really would help us move more cars faster," County Commissioner Sally Elliott said. "I’d love to hear from the bicycle community."
According to Radke, "in order to get this done, we’ve got to act fairly soon."
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