UDOT says new study is underway evaluating safety at the intersection of Brown’s Canyon and S.R. 248
Vehicles attempting to cross S.R. 248 at the Brown’s Canyon Road intersection are doing so “on a wing and a prayer,” according to an online petition started by a nearby resident requesting a traffic light at the increasingly busy location, where stopped traffic attempts to enter a 65 mph highway.
Hilary Reiter said she started the petition after a particularly violent crash there on June 13 in which a heavy duty work truck was knocked into oncoming lanes and smashed head-on into a Subaru coming up the hill from the Kamas Valley.
The Subaru driver was taken to the hospital with very serious head injuries that did not prove fatal, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.
Reiter said that crash was the impetus for starting the campaign, and as of Tuesday morning, more than 800 people had signed the petition demanding a traffic light at the intersection.
“I’m signing this because I live right off this intersection and almost every time I make a turn here, I feel like (I’m) at risk,” one person who signed the petition wrote. “We absolutely need a traffic light here.”
Another wrote, “This will save lives!”
The Utah Department of Transportation controls S.R. 248 and, in 2018, conducted a traffic study that found that the intersection was not busy enough to warrant a traffic signal and, in fact, wasn’t particularly close to needing one. The traffic volume metric that came the closest to warranting a signal fell 18% short of the agency’s target line.
Courtney Samuel, a spokesperson for the agency, said UDOT engineers have been conducting a new traffic study for the past month and that the agency will likely decide on any safety procedures in the near future, suggesting the possibility of a speed limit decrease or a traffic signal.
He said the agency was trying to take into account changes in driver behavior because of COVID-19 and would adjust the data accordingly.
“They’re in the process of going through the study right now,” Samuel said. “… I think we’re pretty confident things have changed a little bit because of the development.”
There are more than 700 residential units entitled at the entrance to Brown’s Canyon on the east side of S.R. 248, including in Black Rock Ridge, the Deer Vista gated community and the Black Rock Mountain Resort, which is under construction.
The latter is a planned condo/hotel/ice-arena center that is planned to house future large events like hockey tournaments. A 2016 Wasatch County staff report indicated the Brown’s Canyon/S.R. 248 intersection would likely fail when a special event like a hockey game let out.
There are also homes being built across S.R. 248 in Park’s Edge, and the road directly across from Brown’s Canyon Road — Jordanelle Parkway — has been under construction for more than a year. It is planned to run along the northern edge of the Jordanelle Reservoir and serve the many developments planned there, eventually connecting to U.S. 40 and the planned Mayflower Mountain Resort.
Samuel said the Brown’s Canyon/S.R. 248 intersection had already been identified as the location for a future traffic light, but UDOT has been waiting until traffic levels warrant it. He said the agency had originally planned to revisit the 2018 traffic study this year because of expected traffic increases.
He estimated a new traffic signal would cost around $150,000 to $250,000, and that developers in the area of the intersection likely wouldn’t have to contribute to that cost because the entrances to their properties do not open onto the state road itself, but rather the Jordanelle Parkway or Brown’s Canyon Road.
Other factors contribute to whether a signal is installed in an intersection, including the number and severity of crashes at the site, according to the traffic study.
There were 17 crashes at the intersection from 2010 to 2018, according to the study, none that ranked as “severe” and four that would have been corrected by a traffic signal. The UDOT threshold is five crashes within a year that would have been corrected by a traffic signal.
According to an online database of crash reports maintained by UDOT, there have been nine accidents near that intersection since July 2018 ranging in severity from a vehicle hitting a construction barrel to crashes between two vehicles, or a vehicle and a bicycle, causing injuries.
Those numbers are updated quarterly, according to the Utah Highway Patrol, and the June 13 crash is not included in that data.
Reiter said that a traffic signal can’t come soon enough.
“I believe many people driving the Park City-Kamas corridor are legitimately concerned about the safety issues: the speed at which people drive in excess of the posted 65 mph limit, the many cyclists on the road, the difficulty in crossing over 248 from Browns Canyon to Jordanelle Parkway, and the wait time for an opening in the traffic to turn left from Browns to drive toward Kamas,” she wrote in an email to The Park Record.
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