Elected officials ‘not surprised’ by results of Kilby Road review
When Summit County Councilor Doug Clyde read the independent review of Kilby Road last weekend, he wasn’t particularly surprised with results of the report.
Clyde said the redesign of Kilby Road and construction of the remote parking lot across from Ecker Hill Middle School were completed “very rapidly,” so it didn’t shock him that there were some “minor oversights.” The work was finished late last summer.
“I don’t think anyone considered them particularly egregious or dangerous,” he said. “We are talking about errors that will require fixes where the lines are moved mere inches.”
Elected officials went over the results of the report on Wednesday with Derrick Radke, Summit County’s public works director. The county had commissioned the independent review of the road by a Provo-based engineering firm after the community expressed concern about the road’s safety.
The six-page report revealed several design errors in the alignment of the curves, as well as violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act for wheelchair ramps at the Pinebrook Boulevard intersection and the Elk Meadows Apartment driveway.
“The good news is we can fix all of that with new paint and the road has to be repainted anyways,” Radke told Councilors during the meeting referring to the striping. “If we had another 50 foot of right-of-way, we could have done this differently. But, I think we have accomplished what we set out to do. I apologize we didn’t do it perfect the first time.”
The county redesigned Kilby Road to reduce speeding, accommodate cyclists and handle additional capacity. Raised medians, bike lanes and turning lanes were added as part of the snake-like design.
However, some drivers have been highly critical of it, with many claiming it forces vehicles to weave into the bike lanes. Clyde acknowledged the road’s design goes against common engineering practices. He added, “When you ask an engineer how to build a road, they will say straight as a string.”
“We set dual objectives here: One was to increase capacity because we knew there was going to be a capacity problem if we didn’t improve Kilby Road, and we also wanted to slow down traffic,” he said. “That is a complicated task. But, I think our in-house staff did a good job of accomplishing that.”
Clyde said elected officials have received several positive comments about the improvements and addition of bike lanes. But, he recognized not everyone is happy with the end result.
“There will be potential irritation,” he said.
Roger Armstrong, County Council chair, commended county officials for listening to the people that expressed concern and commissioning a peer review.
“The point of the review was to say, ‘Does this meet safety standards,’” he said. “The report came back and for the most part, yes. But, there are a couple places where we have to do some fixes to bring it into compliance. I did not see anything in that report, assuming the changes are made, to suggest it is an inherently unsafe road.” Tom Fisher, county manager, also reiterated that the results of the report deemed the road to be safe.
“Perfection is a pretty high standard and I don’t expect that,” he said. “But, what I do expect is that we look for a safety standard and we achieved that.”
Fisher has been in close contact with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office since the road was finished to determine how it is performing. He said there have been few vehicle accidents as a direct result of the road.
“From a statistical point of view and that evidence, we feel like we have done a good job. I know there are still people critical of it and I understand where they are coming from with a design like this,” he said. “That new road section is completely different and it makes you pay attention. But, we have to plan, build and improve roadways for the future, and adding the ability to handle the capacity of what we project traffic to be in the future. We want this to last 30, 40 or even 50 years.”
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.