Summit County proposes tunnel under Kilby Road but project hinges on land negotiation
Summit County has announced plans to build a pedestrian tunnel under Kilby Road as part of the upcoming project to construct roundabouts at the Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook interchanges. But, the county still needs to secure some of the land surrounding the tunnel to make the project come to fruition.
The proposed pedestrian tunnel would start on the north side of Kilby Road and end in Quarry Village. The Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District has agreed to fund construction of the tunnel. It is estimated to cost about $1.5 million.
However, county officials are still in negotiations with the Associated Fresh Markets, Inc., the company that owns the property where the tunnel would end.
Tom Fisher, county manager, said the county is requesting to secure some of Associated Fresh Markets, Inc., land or at least get permission to complete the tunnel. He said officials have wanted to construct the pedestrian passage for some time, but the funding was not available.
“We certainly heard from the community that a tunnel would make the project more complete and we always had that in our concept,” he said. “The County Council wanted us to find a way to fund it so we did.”
Officials are hoping to construct the tunnel at the same time as the roundabouts. The redesign of the interchange incorporates pedestrian and cyclist improvements, including north-to-south connectivity via tunnels underneath the interstate. The roundabouts are intended to help improve the flow of traffic and accommodate an increase in capacity that is expected through 2050.
Steve Miner, vice president of real estate for Associated Food Stores, Inc., parent company of Associated Fresh Markets, Inc., said he has been in contact with the owners of businesses in Quarry Village, and based on those conversations there is support for the project.
But, he said the main concern is whether the tunnel could hurt property value.
“Initial discussions have been cooperative,” he said. “We are trying to figure out a way to help and support that project, while at the same time not hurting the value of that property or the development thereof.”
At a minimum, the infrastructure for the tunnel will be put in place beneath Kilby Road this year, Fisher said.
“We are likely going to have (the right-of-way) completed by the time that we need it in order to do the whole tunnel,” he said. “But, we have been very careful to say the Kilby Road tunnel is a separate project from the roundabouts so we don’t delay the whole project.”
The cost of construction would increase if the projects were connected, Fisher said. The county and the Utah Department of Transportation are mostly funding the estimated $10.6 million roundabouts project. The county plans to use revenue from the 2016 voter-approved transportation sales tax initiative and a bond against those revenues to pay for its portion of construction.
“I believe it will all get done this year at this time,” Fisher said. “There is no reason to wait because it is going to get done. It has to get done this year. UDOT lines up their funding and approvals for projects years in advance, and if we don’t meet their schedule it complicates it where it could be delayed. It is better for the community to complete this project this year.”
Jennifer Terry, a Jeremy Ranch resident, has been advocating for safer pedestrian crossings at the entrances to Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook for several years. While she supports the improvements that have been proposed, she said they aren’t enough.
Terry is encouraging the county to also build tunnels beneath Homestead Road and Pinebrook Boulevard as part of the roundabout construction. The current designs for the project show crosswalks with pedestrian-activated warning lights.
“It has to be a complete circuit in order for it to work and to be utilized,” she said. “As of right now, it is incomplete. I know that money is the problem. But, this is an all-or-nothing situation. The community is very afraid they won’t do it right. If they don’t do it right, they will get backlash so just do it right the first time.”
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Councilor Glenn Wright estimated that the ability to provide renewable energy sources for county power will cost the average Summit County resident $0.70 per year above current costs.