Summit County Council questioned about status of pedestrian crossing on S.R. 224
Erin Ruzek has unsuccessfully advocated for a pedestrian crossing on S.R. 224 near Bear Hollow Drive and Silver Springs Road for at least five years. But, she isn’t ready to give up yet.
She recently approached the Summit County Council about the status of a crossing after a crash on S.R. 224 resulted in a vehicle rolling onto the sidewalk. The driver sustained critical injuries, but no one else was seriously hurt.
“We are sick of seeing accidents there,” she said in an interview. “I have no idea how someone wasn’t standing there when that happened. There are constantly people trying to cross that street to mountain bike or run. Somebody above was definitely looking out for the community.”
Ruzek, a Sun Peak resident, was under the impression that a crossing would be built as part of the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District’s 2014 bond. She said it was mentioned in the 2014 bond information pamphlet distributed to Basin residents before the election.
The Basin Recreation District allocated $3 million for the pedestrian crossing to connect the paved Millennium Trail on the west side of S.R 224 to the existing paved trail on the east side of S.R. 224 and provide another option for Parley’s Park Elementary School students for crossing the busy road.
Shortly after the bond was passed, County Council members reviewed potential designs for overpass crossings and tunnels. However, the plan was ultimately shelved after several meetings with the recreation district. It has not been revisited since.
County Council members were concerned with the cost associated with the project and the proposed location. Elected officials contend the crossing was never promised, but was only under consideration as part of the recreation district’s $25 million bond, an assertion Ruzek strongly disagrees with.
“They know that this has always been a crossing that Basin Rec has wanted to do to connect their trails and provide safe ways for those who are walking and biking,” she said. “It is an expensive project and it gets more expensive each year they don’t do it. They are just really thankful there was a loophole with the language they used that has allowed them to pull out.”
Ruzek said she and many others only voted for the recreation bond because of the crossing. She said close calls occur at the intersection on a daily basis and it’s offensive to those who have been injured in accidents to say it is not dangerous enough to warrant a crossing.
“I mean does a death have to occur for us to be taken seriously?” she said. “This has been going on for, like, 10 years and I get frustrated sometimes because I think the County Council assumes it is just me who wants this. I just feel like they are holding this crossing to a higher criteria than any other one that has been built. I’ve never seen anyone have to fight for safety like we have.”
County Council member Roger Armstrong was not supportive of a crossing at the intersection when the designs were being considered, often citing price and purpose. He told Ruzek during the May 30 Council meeting elected officials wanted flexibility for the use of the bond funds and never guaranteed a crossing.
“We talked about projects that were contemplated and being considered, but we never said those were the ones that would be built. They were just proposed,” he said. “What we told you the last time and that is still the case is we haven’t rejected anything.”
County Council Chair Kim Carson said in an interview an S.R. 224 pedestrian crossing is not off the table. She said it has been delayed as a result of transportation studies that have been commissioned to examine the entry corridor.
“What we needed to figure out first is what the best location is because we are not sure it’s there,” she said. “We know we are in need of a safe passage somewhere in that vicinity, but until they finish the study on the long-range plan, there are still several projects that are under consideration.”
Carson said a crossing cannot be built until several studies that are underway are complete. She said the consideration of bus-rapid transit lanes along S.R. 224 or other modes of transportation could affect the location and design of a future pedestrian crossing.
“The bottom line is it is all about using taxpayer money wisely,” she said. “I can feel for them. They want their kids to be safe, but we need to look at where the most traffic is and what makes the most sense.”
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.