The Park Record Editorial Aug. 16, 2008 | ParkRecord.com
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The Park Record Editorial Aug. 16, 2008

Landmark Drive redo: Rubble without a cause

There is no doubt that the growing confluence of businesses at Kimball Junction has made the existing network of roadways obsolete. Nor is there any argument that the $8 million county-financed redo on the Landmark Drive side of the intersection looks like a reasonable solution on paper.

But these days, when it comes to navigating the orange-coned, bulldozer-studded war zone politely dubbed "the Landmark Drive realignment project," most local shoppers would rather drive off the ski jump at the UOP than try to do any errand requiring a trip to Walmart or the Tanger Outlets.

The snarl of cars and construction workers is a traffic engineer’s nightmare. The lane closures and detours are poorly marked and the flagmen forced to face the angry throngs are too few and far between.

Surely, there must be a better way.

This week, perhaps because area residents are shopping for back-to-school-supplies or because Salt Lake shoppers were trying to avoid the weekend freeway closure or because one of the construction workers snapped a power line, Landmark Drive has been gridlocked.

Granted, Kimball Junction area merchants were warned that the project would be "disruptive," but they were also told that the contractor would do everything possible to mitigate construction-related traffic interruptions. In fact, that promise is written in to the contract. Staker and Parson agreed to a performance bonus for completing the project on time (before the snow flies in October) and for minimizing the project’s impact on surrounding businesses.

So far though, since breaking ground in July, workers have disabled the traffic sensors that control the traffic lights, knocked out power to the area several times and now they have brought traffic to a near standstill. (The county engineer reported recently that shoppers have complained about waiting 45 minutes just to get out of the Walmart parking lot.)

It may be a case of "you can’t have it both ways." That is, the contractor can go slow and mitigate more, or go fast and mitigate less. But that wasn’t in the original deal.

The county engineer and the contractor reassured the merchants that traffic would continue to flow with minimal interruptions. That, as any mom who has tried to buy new school clothes in the last month can tell you, is NOT the case.

Granted we are not traffic engineers, but after taking a close look at a diagram of the Landmark Drive project on the county’s Web site (http://www.co.summit.ut.us/landmark/index.html), it seems as though a better plan would have been to construct the new alignment before ripping into the existing one.

Be that as it may, it is tough enough to stay in business these days without making customers trailblaze through the rubble to find the front door. The project update on the county Website warns of "shoulder work with minor traffic interruptions." If this is their idea of minor, someone better renegotiate the performance bonus. the way, the Web site also lists a hotline. If you want to add your 2 cents, the number is 1-888-914-5454 .


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