Summit County is once again exploring the idea of constructing a new road in the Kimball Junction area to provide a link between Silver Creek Road and Bitner Road.
County Council Chair Kim Carson said the connection was promised to residents in the Silver Creek neighborhood several years ago. Residents currently have to use Interstate 80 to reach Bitner Road or other areas in Kimball Junction.
County staffers discussed the possible connection with the County Council on Wednesday, with members of the public commenting on their preferred route and the impact it would have on their neighborhoods. More than 30 people attended the meeting.
Derrick Radke, public works director, said a link has been considered for about 15 of the 25 years he’s been with the county. He said it would provide access to the Snyderville Basin without having to use the freeway, better emergency access and improved circulation throughout the surrounding neighborhoods.
“There are a lot of reasons why we need a connection,” he said.
While county staffers do not have a preferred route, four options were presented to the Council on Wednesday that would extend a frontage road north of the freeway, Valley Drive, Church Street or Wasatch Way to connect with Bitner Ranch Road. The options have remained consistent throughout the process.
Each choice presents different challenges or financial constraints that the County Council was asked to consider. The preferred option for the Park City Fire District and Summit County’s emergency manager would be to extend the frontage road. Radke said during the meeting the alignment is closest to Silver Creek Drive, presents the lowest cost of construction and would affect the fewest amount of parcels. However, he said securing the right-of-way would be challenging and it would provide the shortest queue relief for drivers from the freeway.
The second option — Valley Drive — would provide the second shortest distance for emergency responders and second lowest cost of construction. The road is close to the freeway, but wouldn’t cause a traffic jam for cars waiting to access it. However, it would require emergency vehicles to primarily drive through residential areas and would affect a significant amount of parcels.
Church Street and Wasatch Way, the other two possible routes, offered similar benefits and constraints associated with construction and access.
Silver Creek’s Service Area No. 3 conducted an informal poll after its last public input session to better understand what the public prefers.
Of the nearly 190 residents polled, 87 percent agreed Silver Creek needs an alternate access route. An overwhelming number of participants — 77 percent — chose the frontage road route as their preference, followed by Wasatch Way, with 8 percent selecting it as their primary choice. The results were similar to comments received at an open house in October, Radke said. Residents at the meeting were split about what their preferred route would be, with most who commented wanting it constructed further away from their home or neighborhood.
Larry Finch, who is a member of Service Area No. 3’s Board of Trustees, said he and his wife would prefer the frontage road access. He was concerned the other three options would increase traffic throughout the neighborhoods.
“We have other cars coming down from the Preserve and Glenwild, and we would be responsible for that additional traffic,” he said. “I would strongly support the Frontage Road option as the least expensive and easiest way to access the neighborhood in the case of an emergency.”
Brian Bitner, president of Stage Coach Estates Board of Directors, said his choice would be Church Street because it would help offload traffic in both directions from Silver Creek.
Bitner said the frontage road access would cut through Bitner Ranch, adding, “If we are going to do that, we would like to have some density out of it instead of just a road.”
“We’ve been there a long time and would like to have respect on that aspect,” he said. “Just because we are there and have open ground doesn’t mean we want people driving past our place all the time. I think it would be nicer for the community and everyone to have it further north.”
Paul Henry, a Woodside homeowner, said he was frustrated with the whole process because he had not been properly informed of the meeting or potential for a connection. He said the burden is on the county to keep homeowners informed of potential projects.
“My concerns are that the survey was done two or three years ago before any of us lived there,” he said. “I think it would affect home values, and I think there are a ton of kids in our neighborhood that would make it a safety concern.”
The County Council considered the matter and took public comment for nearly an hour before closing the discussion. The Council agreed to hold another meeting in April to further explore the issue.
“The public input has been helpful because I think that the idea of a connection is an important one,” said County Councilor Chris Robinson. “The question is where do we do it because everyone’s not going to want it on their property.”