Summit County inundated with complaints about Kilby Road construction (w/video)
Summit County has been inundated with complaints about the new design of Kilby Road, with many questioning whether the improvements will actually deter speeding or cause more accidents.
County officials said the redesign was intended to help traffic flow better while reducing congestion and speeding. The county widened the road from Ecker Hill Middle School to Quarry Village and constructed two new roundabouts in front of the park-and-ride lot and the middle school. Several medians were installed as traffic-calming measures, which creates a “winding” or “snake-like” design.
In this sped-up video recorded Wednesday, Sept. 19, drivers maneuver through Kilby Road, which was reconstructed by Summit County officials to reduce speed and help ease congestion. (Christopher Samuels/Park Record)
County Manager Tom Fisher said the county has received a significant amount of negative feedback since the project began over the summer. He said people are concerned about whether the bike lanes are safe, if snowplows will be able to maneuver around the medians in the winter, and how the curvilinear lanes will slow down traffic as intended.
“All of these things are valid concerns and we want to recognize that,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to think we are tone deaf to their comments. Is it an innovative design? Yes. Is it new to the community? Yes. We will be watching it very closely to make sure it achieves the goals we want it to achieve.”
Fisher, who lives in Pinebrook, said he drives the road every day and doesn’t take the complaints lightly.
“Those who live there have to pay attention and travel at speeds based on the current conditions,” he said. “Bicyclists have to pay attention. I think we could always blame the engineering department. But, some very thoughtful design went into this project by some very experienced people.”
Complaints about Kilby Road are not new to the county. Residents in nearby neighborhoods would frequently call the county or the Summit County Sheriff’s Office to report speeding vehicles, congestion problems and concerns about pedestrian safety before the decision was made to upgrade the road.
“The road that was there before did not allow passing, so if you were stopped waiting to make a left turn, there was no way to pass,” Fisher said. “We tried to achieve an expansion of what the road can be used for.”
Kim Olson, who lives in lower Pinebrook, said she drives on Kilby Road at least twice a day. She agreed speeding was an issue before the construction, but she’s unsure how the new design can be considered safe. She noted that a car crashed into the new roundabout in front of the middle school within days of its construction.
“It’s a zig zag,” she said. “If you go the speed limit of 35 mph, which a lot will do, I do anticipate a lot of issues with people hitting the median or weaving into the bike lane.”
Penny Tang lives in Park Meadows, but frequently drives on Kilby Road because her children attend the Weilenmann School of Discovery. Tang said she is concerned about the additional traffic the park-and-ride lot will create, as well as the safety of cyclists.
“Right now it’s a disaster,” she said. “I can only imagine what it will be like when the ski season starts. I just don’t see that it is a good design.”
Lt. Andrew Wright, of the Sheriff’s Office, said a formal complaint was received last week from a cyclist who alleged a Park City Transit bus driver did not give him the proper three-foot clearance while he was riding in one of the new bike lanes. Wright said the Sheriff’s Office has reminded bus drivers with Park City Transit and the Park City School District to adhere to the traffic laws when passing cyclists.
The Sheriff’s Office deployed additional patrols along Kilby Road last week to help drivers adjust to the new design, Wright said. He added, “We all have to work together to make sure it is safe for all users.”
Summit County Council Chair Kim Carson said the county is beginning to receive some positive feedback about the road’s improvements.
“It (the new design) is working to reduce speed,” she said in an email. “Many people have stated that it just took them a couple of times to get used to it and understand the changes that were made.” The construction on Kilby Road is mostly complete. Additional landscaping and sign installation is expected to be complete soon.
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How on earth will the Park City Council candidates address the traffic situation? What will they pledge to accomplish regarding housing? And how well do they understand the impact of the consolidation and corporatization of the ski industry? The fall campaign could answer those questions.