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High T intersection construction update

Oct 02, 2017 10:55AM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

The proposed high T intersection for SR-210 at the La Caille turnoff. (Peter Tang/UDOT)

Gallery: Intersection Construction [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

On August 24, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) broke ground for a construction project on the intersection of Little Cottonwood Canyon Road and Wasatch Boulevard (otherwise known as the Wasatch Boulevard/SR 201 Interchange or the La Caille turnoff). This project involves restructuring the intersection to a high-T intersection, which is a type of intersection used for three-way roads with high traffic volume. This construction project has created tension between the Cottonwood Heights City Council, UDOT and some of the surrounding residents. Much of the tension stems from the ownership of the boulevard.

Wasatch Boulevard is a state-owned highway, not a city road;, so UDOT has jurisdiction over the entire boulevard.

The purpose of this construction is to generally “improve safety and access at the intersection,” UDOT says. More specifically, UDOT’s purposes are to alleviate congestion for northbound traffic by creating free-flowing movement, improve safety accessing Wasatch Boulevard from Danish Road and Sutton Way and improve overall visibility at the intersection by modifying the alignment, among others.

On May 16, Project Manager Peter Tang visited the Cottonwood Heights City Council to present UDOT’s high-t intersection construction plan. “Before construction begins, we will send out waivers and have an open house, explaining what the contractor will do, semantics, estimated shutdown times, etc. We will be doing everything we can to alert traffic to take alternative routes. We will also be coordinating with Snowbird.”

On April 12, UDOT hosted an open house at Canyon View Elementary. One of the main issues brought forth by residents during the open house concerned the traffic gaps provided by the signal for the surrounding neighborhoods trying to access Wasatch Boulevard.

This, and additional safety concerns brought forth by residents, was to be discussed in a preconstruction meeting with UDOT, the contracted construction company and Cottonwood Heights Public Works.

In August, months later, many residents were still concerned about this construction project. “I don’t see the safety in that intersection. I’m floored that UDOT can work with the city over a period of time and can’t get the safety right. The project impacts more than just that intersection,” Kimberly Crone said.

On August 22, many neighbors joined at the city council meeting to voice their comments.

“Removing the northbound stop light at the Wasatch and SR-210 intersection will serve to further degrade the quality of safety and mobility of drivers that utilize Wasatch Boulevard on a daily basis, all year long,” resident Eric Kraan said. “It induces a domino effect of hardship and danger to day-to-day users, and causes increased safety with driver ingress/egress within immediate and adjoining neighborhoods.”

Resident Linda Brooks resides within one of the neighborhoods directly off of Wasatch Boulevard. “It’s very dangerous to pull out of that intersection. If we were to go south, the only thing that gives us a break to get on the boulevard is that light. If you are removing that light, there’s no hope for us,” Brooks said.

A resident from another neighborhood had the same issue. “The ingress and egress is already problematic. The entrance for the neighborhood is dangerous now, without turning Wasatch into a freeway,” Nikki Grace said.

Grace’s neighbor, Jen Fredricksen, echoed her comment. “Trying to turn left onto Wasatch is already very difficult since the lights are out of sync, but with the new plan, it will be dangerous and nearly impossible.”

Bicycle safety was also a concern. “Cyclists will no longer be safe transitioning from Wasatch, heading north,” Lorraine Smith said.

After listening to many resident concerns, Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore realized he needed to make a clarification. “Wasatch is the only state-owned highway in Cottonwood Heights. It is maintained by UDOT, so this is a UDOT issue. We are trying to listen to your concerns and give our feedback to UDOT, but they do things their way.”

Councilman Tee Tyler lives east of Wasatch and shared residents’ concerns. “I have personally addressed UDOT engineers on this design. UDOT owns Wasatch Boulevard, so that’s the group making the decisions here. We are just being told what will be. This is something that the city is really concerned about, but it’s a road we don’t own.”

After the residents became visibly disheartened, Cullimore urged them to not give up. “This is a high priority for us. We get more people in the canyon than they do at Yellowstone National Park. We have to be vigilant with UDOT. We need to continue to hear from you. We need continuous feedback to give to them as well. That’s the only thing that brings about change.”

As of Sept. 5, the high-T intersection construction has broken ground and is in the works. There will be shoulder closures and one-way flagging, with construction vehicles entering and exiting the project area. The construction has been contracted through November, but UDOT hopes to have construction completed before the end of October, in anticipation of ski season.

Even with the construction of the intersection moving forward, the Cottonwood Heights City Council plans to study Wasatch Boulevard. “We have selected a consultant to study Wasatch from Holladay to Sandy, which includes the mouth of canyons and Little Cottonwood Canyon Road,” Community and Economic Development Director Brian Berndt said.

The study will look at traffic generation and volumes until April of next year. “We have been begging for this study, and now we are going to get it. We need a more comprehensive look at traffic counts on the boulevard,” Tyler said.

For more information on the intersection construction, visit the UDOT project summary page: https://www.udot.utah.gov/projectpages/f?p=250:2007:0::NO::P2007_EPM_PROJ_XREF_NO,P2007_PROJECT_TYPE_IND_FLAG:11844,A.

 Or search for the project in the archives under SR-210 @ Wasatch Dr. – Pin 14431, with Project Manager Peter S. Tang.

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