The Summit County Council gained new insight into several costly projects on Wednesday that county engineers hope will guide the future of transportation for the next 30 years.
The long range transportation plan examines transportation needs and identifies projects between now and 2050 that may address them. The first phase of the transportation plan, which stretches from 2022 to 2030, includes a $180 million price tag for 15 roadway projects and eight trail projects in the Snyderville Basin and on the East Side of Summit County
County engineers told the elected officials some of the information may have changed since they last appeared before the County Council in mid-February and each project was priced higher to account for projected inflation. There are several other projects included in phase two, which spans from 2030 to 2040, and phase three, which runs from 2040 to 2050, of the long range transportation plan but they do not include cost estimates.
“It’s hard to know what’s gonna happen that far out but there are things that we’ve kind of looked at and planned for there,” said Brandon Brady, senior engineer.
Six projects from the first phase of the transportation plan that would likely start construction first or that county councilors had questions about were highlighted during Wednesday’s meeting, but the staff report includes detailed descriptions of all 23 projects.
One of the most notable changes to the transportation plan involves combining two grade-separation projects that officials believe may help alleviate congestion at Kimball Junction. The work involves separating the grades of Olympic Parkway, Newpark Boulevard and Ute Boulevard at S.R.224 by creating structures that would keep the roads from intersecting. The county would complete the project in collaboration with the Utah Department of Transportation and is expected to pay for the cost of grade separation. It’s estimated to total more than $93.5 million in 2030 dollars.
The construction of a new two-lane road and grade-separated trail from Bitner Ranch Road to Silver Creek Road was another project discussed. The project would include roadway improvements, and the connection would enhance the community’s circulation and improve emergency access, according to the staff report. It’s estimated to cost $15.6 million in 2030 dollars, or about one-third more than it would today.
Another project would be the creation of a new two-mile paved sidepath along Old Ranch Road for recreationists and residents to use. Engineers hope the sidepath will serve as a connection to the Round Valley area and other trail systems or nearby running routes. The project’s scope of work changed, which increased its cost from $250,000 to just over $1 million.
However, upgrading the roundabout at Silver Creek Drive, Pace Frontage Road and Old Highway 40 will cost less than initially expected. The project will expand the existing roundabout to a full two-lane circle, however, the consultant originally thought the entire structure would need to be constructed. Now, it’s estimated to cost $1.3 million – down from an original price tag of $6 million.
County engineers also discussed a project to realign Old Highway 40 at S.R. 248 because the current intersection is too close to the northbound off- and on-ramps. They said the project is in response to anticipated future traffic increases and could cost up to $4.4 million. However, it’s just one option and the proposal could change. The figure includes some cost estimates for soil remediation but the exact numbers are unknown. County Councilor Doug Clyde expressed concerns about wetland mitigation in the area and endangered species, which could cause construction delays.
“Don’t start buying the asphalt for this project – you’re a long way away from a permit,” he warned.
The final project presented was widening Weber Canyon Road. As people move into the area and traffic from the side road increases, motorists would be given acceleration and deceleration lanes at various points along Weber Canyon Road from Oakley to Smith and Morehouse Reservoir. A 2030 cost estimate anticipates it will total around $6.7 million.
Other notable projects that are listed in the long range transportation plan but were not discussed on Wednesday include upgrading the existing pedestrian tunnel under Interstate 80 in conjunction with UDOT for $15.5 million, extending Landmark Drive for $7.5 million, paving 18 miles of the Rail Trail for $2.3 million and creating a pathway along S.R. 32 between Francis and Oakley for $1.9 million.
County engineers are planning to host open houses on each side of the county to collect input from residents. Then, a public hearing will be held before the transportation plan is brought back to the County Council to be officially adopted. Both Clyde and County Councilor Malena Stevens said they were eager to hear feedback from the public on the plan.
County officials did not discuss how they planned to pay for the projects but seemed hopeful about funding opportunities like grants or collaborating with UDOT.