Old Ranch Road residents to drivers: Slow down!
January 27, 2015
Old Ranch Road residents have joined representatives from the Summit County planning and engineering departments and the Sheriff’s Department as part of an ongoing discussion about the traffic calming measures that can be taken to preserve the neighborhood’s rural character.
Nearly 15 residents joined county staff on Monday night to discuss proposed improvements to mitigate traffic on Old Ranch Road, especially the one-mile stretch between 5500 North Old Ranch Road and Ranch Creek Lane that lies east of the neighborhood. The grassroots effort began with the Old Ranch Road neighborhood plan.
"We have experienced some good physical improvements to make the road safer, but at the same time it is an invitation for vehicle users to speed up," said Greg Lawson, Old Ranch Road resident and member of the neighborhood traffic calming committee.
The measures residents are proposing are physical improvements to the road, such as entry signs, speed displays, and speed tables/humps, are aimed at reducing excessive speeding and protecting residents and wildlife,
"The purpose of the traffic calming is to make the roads more pedestrian friendly," Lawson said. "There is a growing popularity of bicyclists, people walking their dogs, and equestrian users."
In 2009, the county widened and repaved Old Ranch Road, which led to neighborhood meetings and the implementation of the first traffic calming program. It included the designation of the neighborhood as a multi-use corridor due to its proximity to the Round Valley open space area and the Swaner Preserve and Eco Center.
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Residents say additional improvements to the north/south sections of the road from Highland Drive to Ranch Creek lane last year has led to increased speeds.
"The improvements that occurred last year have been counter to the traffic calming program," Lawson said. "What I am fearful of is that Old Ranch Road is going to become the shortcut that everybody races up and down."
During the meeting, residents explored whether or not more stops signs or medians would deter speeding and encourage drivers to be wary of other users on the road. Residents discussed using artwork or bumper stickers to remind drivers of the speed limit and to "share the road."
Toni Gannon, who has lived on Old Ranch Road for 24 years, said the increased use of the road has led to more blind spots and safety concerns for both residents and users.
"People aren’t cognizant of that," Gannon said. "People who come here to recreate need to be aware and educated."
Resident Anne Morgan said she welcomes the idea of making the neighborhood’s residents accountable to each other.
"We will continue to see more and more traffic," Morgan said. "And everyone is in their own world and not paying attention. I think we can do it safely with landscape medians or stops signs to really limit that direct shot."
But not every resident is on board with the proposed measures.
Steve Osguthorpe has property on Old Ranch Road and said some of the proposed physical improvements would create challenges for his agricultural oopeations, for instance the medians would be difficult to navigate with his farm equipment.
"If you do any more to impact me and create more difficulty getting in and out, I’ll have no choice but to sell my property for development," Osguthorpe said. "To me the most efficient way is to give tickets and tell them to slow down."
Summit County Sergeant Andrew Wright said deputies have focused more of their attention on the area recently and have increased patroling.
"I’m thankful to hear that you are seeing us," Wright said. "We can give tickets out all day, but is that going to change the behavior? Probably not.
"On the Sheriff’s Office level, if you don’t work with us and communicate with us, we don’t know that there is a problem," he added.
Summit County Engineer Leslie Crawford said traffic calming is a common theme among the neighborhoods throughout the Snyderville Basin.
"I have gone to several HOA meetings in several neighborhoods that have concerns about speeding," she said. "And they are actively pursuing traffic calming.
"I don’t know how to just get rid of speeders," Crawford said. "Every neighborhood is different and has different ideas."