Traffic deemed acute issue |

Traffic deemed acute issue

The Summit County engineering and planning departments have started meeting on a weekly basis in the hopes of establishing some short-term solutions to the county’s current traffic problem.

"We’ve heard loud and clear from our council members that they want us to be doing something now," Summit County Public Works Director Derrick Radke said. "And I think there are things we can get done."

The county staff has met each week since the New Year to discuss the Snyderville Basin’s long-range transportation plan and how to use it as a guide to identify some short-term plans to address traffic congestion within the next five years.

As a long-range plan, the transportation study took into account population projections for the year 2040 and what traffic would look like then, without considering current problems.

"Forty years is a long time to look out," Radke said. "We’d like to have some short-range plans to see what we can do in the next five years and will work to start implementing those."

Summit County Council members received the recommendations from LSC Transportation Consultants and Fehr&Peers last month and weren’t pleased with the results. The county is still waiting on the final report from the consultants and is expecting it later this month.

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"The consultants confirmed our on-the-ground projects from our 2009 study and not a lot of that changed," Radke said. "We know what we could do from a capital improvement perspective, but that would take quite a few years to implement.

"Our leaders said they would like to make a huge impact, so we are beginning to consider what we can do outside of the box that’s not something we’ve already talked about," he said.

Council Co-chair Roger Armstrong said conceptually, the transit design they are considering may not be the best design for the county.

"I think we are, to some degree, trying to use a transit design that works really well in cities and I think we need to start thinking more creatively," Armstrong said. "We need to rethink how we pick people up, where we pick people up, and how we move around."

As the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission continues conversations regarding its General Plan, traffic congestion has already been mentioned as a major concern.

Summit County Engineer Leslie Crawford said county staff is also meeting with community development because "transportation and land use are intricately related."

"We’re trying to brainstorm about what are some actual brick and mortar projects and what are some policy changes we can make to provide some answers right now," Crawford said. "The planning department is looking at land use plans that will enhance existing corridors and transportation is commenting on those land use plans saying what will work for transportation and what won’t. We are really thinking of ways to get people around without a car."

County staff "eagerly awaited" the arrival of the new county manager, Tom Fisher, who has a background the director of the Regional Transportation Planning Office in Mesa County, Colorado, to continue these conversations, Crawford said. Fisher started as county manager on Jan. 20.

"The staff is working very hard on this and we hear what is being said and we hear the concerns," Crawford said. "We are taking it very seriously and I just ask that everyone be patient as we figure this out because we don’t want to do it wrong, we want to do it right."

Speaking with a sense of urgency at a recent County Council meeting, especially considering the influx of people associated with the Sundance Film Festival, council member Claudia McMullin said the "issue is now" and the county staff "cannot wait."

"We have to move as soon as possible," McMullin said. "We don’t have to know it’s going to work, we just have to try things. There are things we need to do and we need to do them and not just talk about them.

"It’s only going to get worse and it’s only going to get bigger," she added.