Stoplight considered on edge of city | ParkRecord.com

Stoplight considered on edge of city

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

With cars zooming in and out of Park City on S.R. 224, Bill Gorton and others say there is the potential of a bad traffic wreck along the city’s entryway from Kimball Junction.

And a likely spot, they say, is the state highway’s intersection with Meadows Drive, the first street drivers on S.R. 224 encounter in Park City when they are heading into the city.

"It’s only a matter of time, in our view, there will be a fatal accident," Gorton says.

Gorton and others recently approached Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council about the safety of the intersection, asking for improvements. There was discussion about installing a stoplight or building a roundabout.

The City Council asked that staffers consider a stoplight. Building a roundabout did not have the support of a majority of the City Council.

Gorton, who lives in Crestline Drive in Ridgeview, says that there is more traffic on S.R. 224 than before, making turns from Meadows Drive more difficult. He says he is satisfied with the City Council’s decision to consider a stoplight.

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"This one, because of the speed and traffic density, is a dangerous intersection," he says.

Gorton says he submitted a 213-signature petition to City Hall asking for a stoplight at the location.

"Traffic will continue to increase on 224," he says.

The discussion between the neighbors and the elected officials occurred as City Hall considered a series of traffic issues, including the Meadows Drive-S.R. 224 intersection.

According to a report submitted to Williams and the City Council beforehand, the Utah Department of Transportation, which manages S.R. 224, has determined that the intersection does not warrant a stoplight, even as Parkites have asked for one.

The report, written by Eric DeHaan, the Park City engineer, however, says that City Hall’s traffic consultant argues that a stoplight should be built because of the amount of traffic. But DeHaan’s report indicates that there have not been lots of wrecks at the intersection.

"Citizen concerns about safety are generally not supported by the actual accident history at the intersection," the city engineer says in the report.

The mayor says a stoplight could cost the local government between $200,000 and $300,000. A roundabout would be much more expensive and planning and building a roundabout could take much longer than installing a stoplight, he says.

"It’s a really dangerous intersection, there’s no two ways about it," the mayor says, adding he is especially worried about left-hand turns from Meadows Drive and Aspen Springs Drive onto S.R. 224.

State transportation officials, meanwhile, oppose building a roundabout. Kris Peterson, an engineer with UDOT, says in an October letter to City Hall that a roundabout would "result in unacceptable delay to the traffic" on S.R. 224 and favor what is described as cross-street traffic. Peterson also says in the letter that a roundabout would hinder a timer system that regulates stoplights along the highway.

This year, traffic has been especially worrisome to Parkites, who have long complained about the increase in drivers in the city. The discussion about the Meadows Drive-S.R. 224 intersection came shortly before a separate debate about traffic in Prospector, where neighbors are worried about the amount of drivers on roads like Comstock Drive and Kearns Boulevard, which, like S.R. 224, is part of the state highway system.

During a recent meeting about S.R. 224, Williams and the City Council listened to testimony from Gorton and other people who live in neighborhoods near the highway.

Brad Olch, a former Park City mayor, worried about the possibility of an accident and argued for a stoplight. He said building a roundabout would be delayed.

"To do a roundabout, I’m afraid, would take three or four years," Olch said.

Others who testified weighed a roundabout versus a stoplight and there was support for a stoplight since a roundabout is seen as more difficult to build. City Councilors talked about a roundabout being more difficult for walkers to cross than if there was a stoplight but some elected officials remained interested in the long-term potential of a roundabout.

DeHaan told the City Council that a stoplight, if it is chosen, could be ready in the late fall of 2007.