Controversy over UDOT truck stop on I-80 continues
The debate surrounding the Utah Department of Transportation’s renovated chain-up area off of Interstate 80 near the Silver Creek Junction has not subsided, with some residents becoming increasingly frustrated over the matter.
But, Summit County officials say UDOT is working with them to find ways to mitigate the impacts of the truck traffic on the adjacent neighborhood.
The former chain-up area near the Bell’s Silver Creek gas station has been in use for nearly 20 years for 18-wheelers and big rigs. But, UDOT recently paved the space with plans of creating roughly 40 stalls for trucks and adding signage, along with a gate, to control access.
John Gleason, public information officer for UDOT, has said the project is intended to make the space more convenient for truck drivers to access. He added, “We wanted to make sure they can chain up or get out and stretch.” He said the location is ideal because it is at the intersection of two major highways: U.S. 40 and Interstate 80.
Gleason acknowledged the concerns of the Silver Creek neighborhood, but continued to emphasize the importance of improving trucker safety.
Gleason said the facility would ideally be open year-round. But, he said that hasn’t been decided yet. He shared a petition with the Park Record requesting the lot remain in constant use. It had more than 200 signatures from people who identified themselves as residents or business owners.
“It’s in the best interest of safety for Parleys Canyon,” he said. “We don’t really anticipate it changing much. It is already an area that is attractive to truck drivers. We haven’t had any problems there. The main difference is that there was no regulation before.”
While most support the goals of the project to improve safety for commuters, Summit County officials and residents are still hoping UDOT will implement some of the suggested mitigations.
Larry Finch, a board member of Silver Creek Service Area No. 3, said in an email the neighborhood’s worries stem from experiences over the last several years, citing the chain-up area’s proximity to the primary bus stop in Silver Creek, a lack of enforcement of the 24-hour stay limitations and criminal activity.
County Council Chair Kim Carson said she understands why the location is desirable — proximity to Parleys Canyon and other parking areas. But, she said it is less than ideal for the Silver Creek neighborhood. The county had asked UDOT to relocate the parking area.
“It doesn’t look like they’re moving toward that, so if it is going to be there, how can we mitigate the negative impacts from it?” she said. “It is tough because they needed something pretty close to Parleys Summit and anything in close proximity is going to be in an area that affects residential communities. It’s the worst location and the best location. It depends on your perspective.”
Carson noted that the county has received emails from residents who support the parking area as a way to keep trucks off of nearby residential streets and bring business to the area.
Some of the mitigations the county is suggesting include adding improvements such as appropriate lighting, a buffer between the neighborhood and the parking lot, air monitors and a drainage system. Carson said UDOT has committed to most of the suggestions, including providing some landscaping.
“They are looking at ways to mitigate some of these effects and are committed to taking a serious evaluation of it in May,” she said. “We share the concerns of the Silver Creek neighborhood and we really have tried to work with UDOT. We are hoping with the changes they are making it will create a safer area.”
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