Summit County approves cost increase for Jeremy Ranch roundabouts
Summit County taxpayers will spend more money than anticipated for the pleasure of easier access to and from Interstate 80 at Jeremy Ranch.
The Summit County Council on Wednesday approved an amended budget for the construction of two long-awaited roundabouts at the Jeremy Ranch interchange after contractor bids for the work came back significantly higher than the initial cost estimate.
According to a staff report drafted in anticipation of Wednesday’s meeting, the low bid for the base work was $9.7 million, 24 percent higher than the $7.3 million the county anticipated. That pushes the total cost of the project to approximately $12.7 million. The project was initially pegged at $10.6 million, with money from the Utah Department of Transportation and federal funding contributing $3 million.
The county plans to pay for its portion of the project using revenue from a voter-approved transportation sales tax, its mineral lease fund and transportation impact fees.
“We normally pay a little premium for the projects built up here because we are outside the Wasatch Front, AND we are crunching this project down into one construction season,” the report, written by county public works director Derrick Radke, states. “These things combined resulted in the 24% extra cost and is not terribly surprising.”
The approval of the increased budget allows the county to move forward with the work in late May or early June as anticipated. The construction is scheduled to last through the fall.
The report outlined the possibility of postponing the project for a year or modifying it to be completed over the course of two construction seasons. Radke indicated in the report that those options would not get the cost down to the initial estimate and may only increase the price tag, given rising construction costs.
In an interview, Radke said drivers, meanwhile, would continue to contend with unwieldy congestion in the area if the project’s completion was delayed.
“The congestion of everyday traffic at the Jeremy Ranch interchange isn’t going to get any better and people have to suffer through that every day,” he said.
Discussions about the project have been underway for years, with the county unveiling formal plans for the roundabouts in 2015. Officials say the roundabouts, which will be significantly larger than existing traffic circles elsewhere in the county, will improve traffic flow and alleviate backups, which are particularly problematic during the morning and evening rush-hour commutes.
The work is also slated to include several amenities for bicyclists and pedestrians, like a trail on Homestead Road and a pair of underpasses, located at the eastbound I-80 on-ramp and the westbound off-ramp. A third underpass, underneath Kilby Road, is planned as part of a separate project.
Critics have questioned whether the roundabouts will present hazards for pedestrians and bicyclists. The county has countered that considerations for pedestrians and bicyclists, such as the trail and underpass options, will increase safety in the area.
The construction is anticipated to cause major traffic disruptions on Kilby, Rasmussen and Homestead roads and comes after a busy 2018 roadwork season in the same area. The redesign of Kilby Road last summer created significant traffic delays for months, much to the chagrin of commuters.
More information about the roundabout project is available at letsgosummit.com. Residents can sign up for regular email updates about the work by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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