Summit County starts early discussion about spring roundabout project
As road construction in the Snyderville Basin winds down over the next several weeks, Summit County officials are already starting to think about the next big project that will dramatically affect traffic in the spring: the installation of two roundabouts at the entrances to Pinebrook and Jeremy Ranch.
The project to reconstruct the Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook interchanges on Homestead Road is scheduled to begin in the late spring and will likely last until through the fall. County Manager Tom Fisher said the project will be exceptionally disruptive.
“This is going to be a big disturbance,” he said. “It will last the entire available construction season. The added difficulty is that we have to keep traffic moving while it is going on.”
Summit County officials are seeking advice from the community on ways the county can better inform and update drivers about the construction. Krachel Murdock, the county’s spokeswoman, said officials are hoping to learn from their experience with the Kilby Road construction, which drew consternation from commuters.
“A lot of what we began to hear from residents who were sharing was that they first learned of the construction as school was starting,” she said. “People left for the summer, and when they returned, they seemed to be caught off guard by it. We felt like we had been reaching out across multiple platforms. But, despite those good efforts, it wasn’t enough.”
Two public hearings were held in the spring before construction started and another open house was held within the first few days of school starting. Murdock and other county staffers provided updates on social media and through local news organizations. Murdock also started providing a weekly email update to those who requested it.
“We are looking at what we did and even those efforts weren’t enough,” she said. “We want to hear from the community. What do we need to do? Obviously, it needs to be reasonable, but what can we do to reach everyone?”
Murdock said the county wants to know whether fliers at grocery stores, mailings or open houses would help spread the word so those who frequently use Homestead Road won’t be caught off guard.
“We do anticipate this project to have a significant impact on the community,” she said. “It is a main thoroughfare for people in Pinebrook and Jeremy Ranch. We have parents on both sides trying to get to schools and people coming in and out of our community who will access that interchange.”
Murdock emphasized that the county isn’t requesting tips on how to improve construction. They are requesting information on how to communicate better, she said.
“We know construction is not convenient to everyone, but hopefully having a heads up will help,” she said.
Summit County officials began discussing an interchange project with the Utah Department of Transportation about 10 years ago before deciding to move forward with the roundabout design in 2015. The roundabouts are intended to help improve the flow of traffic and accommodate the increase in capacity that is expected over the next several decades.
The construction of the roundabouts is being funded by UDOT and the county. 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.
“Being a local resident, I have been involved in all of the construction as a driver, and I appreciate the public’s patience as they are experiencing everything,” Fisher said. “Unfortunately, we will have to play upon that patience next year. But, at the end of it all, we will have a much better situation that will last decades into the future.”
To provide suggestions on how the county can better communicate about the roundabout project in the spring, contact Krachel Murdock at email@example.com.
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.