Summit County reevaluates traffic calming program for neighborhood projects
Staffers want to improve public involvement when measures are considered
June 23, 2017
Summit County staffers were given the green light to change the county's traffic calming program to improve the engagement with the public after realizing a majority of residents were unaware of the measures that were being proposed in their neighborhoods.
"We don't want just a few deciding what happens in their neighborhood, that's why we have a committee that represents the community," said Brandon Brady, Summit County's traffic engineer. "But, the problem is, it was just the affected people that were notified of what was being considered."
The Summit County Council on Wednesday approved an updated public-involvement plan for the county's traffic calming program, which was implemented in 2004, as a way to address complaints about excessive speeding through neighborhoods.
Approximately $15,000 is annually earmarked for the program. Projects have been carried out in Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook, but each received mixed reviews from the community. As a result, Gary Horton, county engineer, updated the program in 2016 to address the issues with the public process.
This year, two areas in the Snyderville Basin — Sun Peak and Ranch Place — were identified as candidates for physical improvements. Plans were produced for Bear Hollow Drive and Cutter Lane, reviewed by separate traffic calming committees and presented at open houses.
Residents along Cutter Lane overwhelming approved the proposal for their neighborhood. Bear Hollow Drive residents voted it down. The County Council on Wednesday authorized the Cutter Lane project, which will include the installation of a raised crosswalk where the East 224 connector trail crosses the road.
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"The Cutter Lane project had a 95 percent approval and I think they did a good job and reached more people. During that process the traffic calming advisory committee actually went around and knocked on doors and talked to the community about it," Brady said. "But with Bear Hollow it seemed like there wasn't enough public involvement. Most people didn't know what was going on and how we came to that conclusion, which is what we want to add to the program."
There will be a requirement under the improved plan that traffic calming committees notify the neighborhood that physical improvements are being considered for their community via email or door to door.
"Obviously, we are not going to get everyone to acknowledge what is going on, but if we could get a certain percentage we could avoid this from happening again," Brady said.
Projects are currently under review for the Summit Park, Pinebrook and Jeremy Ranch neighborhoods, including along Bear Hollow Drive. He said several homeowners associations have also signed petitions requesting a speed study, which is the first step in the process before public outreach begins.
Michelle Kirby, who lives on Bear Hollow Drive and attended Wednesday's County Council meeting, said she was blindsided by the decision to allocate all of the county's funds for traffic calming measures to the Cutter Lane project.
"That was a great disappointment. I have lived there for almost 10 years and we have implemented at least four or five speed studies," Kirby said. "Our community is growing by leaps and bounds and I think we have a public safety issue. It absolutely broke my heart tonight to hear our efforts have been delayed for another year.
"But I am hopeful that when it does come forward, you guys will really consider that we have a bad public safety issue here," she said.