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South Valley Journal

Communication a problem regarding redwood road widening

Feb 23, 2017 02:55PM ● By Tiffany Webb

Looking South on Redwood Road from 12600 South. Where the widening project is due to end on the east side first. (Tiffany Webb/City Journals)

By Tiffany Webb | [email protected]
Redwood Road’s project plans have now been solidified to a seven-lane road. Residents raised much opposition over the proposed raised center median.
With many residents in attendance to voice their opinion about the opposition to having a raised center median between 12800 South and Western Charm Drive along Redwood Road, Mayor Bill Applegarth started a discussion about the Redwood Road project at the Feb. 7 city council meeting.
“My goal is to make the record just totally accurate,” Applegarth stated. “We have now got the funding in place. The transportation commission was very nice in moving funds for us for this project.”
The original plan for the Redwood Road-widening project was to build a five-lane road with no bike lanes or shoulders. Eventually, years later, the road would be expanded into a seven-lane road.
According to Applegarth, it’s cheaper to build the road out all at the same time. UDOT and the city plan to build a seven-lane road with shoulders, sidewalks and bike lanes on each side. In addition to the project being cheaper, the council wanted to build the road out at one time to avoid the taking property from residents twice for Redwood Road expansions.
In prior city council meetings, the following items were discussed in conjunction with the widening project: an intersection alignment and traffic light installed at Christian Way and Western Charm Drive and an intersection alignment and traffic light installation at 13035 South and Riverton Ranch Road.

These neighborhood entrances will be aligned into an intersection at Christian Way and Western Charm Drive because the residents have no way of getting out of their neighborhood unless they exit onto Redwood Road. Another reason for the intersection is so residents will not need to go into Bluffdale and make a U-turn just to come back to their neighborhood in Riverton. Without an intersection, the proposed median would make it impossible to turn left onto their neighborhood streets.

The intersection of Christian Way and Western Charm Drive met a warrant to have a traffic light installed. A warrant means that enough cars are present in the intersection to justify having a traffic light installed. Unfortunately, the future intersection at Riverton Ranch Road and 13035 South has not yet met warrant, so no traffic light will be installed until the warrant has been met. While the alignment of the intersections are in the budget plans and are set to be accomplished, according to Applegarth, the traffic light installation at Christian Way and Western Charm Drive is not currently in UDOT’s budget for the project. Applegarth proposed a way to pay for this traffic signal at the meeting. 
“There is a current rainy day fund balance, which is at $1.3 million,” Applegarth said. “My plan is to leave $600,000 in the fund balance and to leave for amenities $700,000. We don’t have to raise taxes for this funding.”
According to Applegarth, this is just a suggested way to pay for the traffic signals that are not in the project budget. The council ultimately has all the power in deciding whether to take from the fund balance or to take from the general budget. Applegarth continued on this proposed method of paying back the funds taken from the fund balance.
“I have to have a way to repay that (the rainy-day fund), which is with the CenterCal opening and with the businesses coming in that should give us a $300,000 sales tax increase,” Applegarth said.
The CenterCal project will consist of restaurants, retail stores and office spaces. The location of this project is going to be on 13400 South and Mountain View Corridor. Applegarth also spoke about his proposed way of paying back the rainy day fund with the CenterCal project.
“My plan starting in 2018–19 is to take $100,000 from that sales tax increase for that year and you do that for four years to get that fund balance back up to 1 million,” Applegarth said. “I think it’s a reasonable risk.”
Voting by the council on this funds issue will take place at a future city council meeting.
According to Jessica Rice, UDOT project manager, demolitions of homes have already started and construction activities will be starting in the spring. The project will start at the south end of Redwood Road and work north. The east side will be finished first. Once the east side is completed, traffic will be diverted to the east side while construction continues on the west side of the street. The project is expected to be completed this winter
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The project has two controversial topics among the council and city residents: Whether a raised median or a painted median should be installed and perceived lack of communication between UDOT, the council and the residents.
“Communication has been a problem in this, so I wanted everyone in the same room,” Applegarth said.
Applegarth believes there needs to be a raised median between 12600 South and Park Avenue and between Western Charm Drive and Bangerter Highway because of high traffic and commercial businesses in those areas.
Rice and Applegarth said money will be saved by having a raised median instead of a painted median because a raised median doesn’t require the full-depth concrete in the center lane like the other lanes require.
Having raised medians saved money on the middle pavement sections, which allowed for that money to be placed into the aligning the intersections at Christian Way/Western Charm Drive and Riverton Ranch Road /13035 South, according to Applegarth.
“The most important thing of this whole thing is not money,” Applegarth said. “The issue here is what is the safest road to build.The issue for me is not convenience or if you can pull into your house or not—it’s whether you can safely get into your driveway through having a painted median or have U-turns placed throughout the raised medians.”
Bob Ford and Charlie Heaton, both Riverton residents, spoke out about their opposition to having raised medians and proposed to have flat-painted medians that would give turning capabilities between intersections.
“We expressed our opposition at the Old Dome Meeting Hall,” Ford said. “The things that we are frustrated with are that we feel like we have not been heard by UDOT. We want to have a voice in this discussion. Anywhere that there isn’t a raised median in other cities is a direct reflection of the citizens and council outcry.”
According to Ford, the residents whose homes are on the east side of Redwood Road have not received correct compensation to the reduced access to their properties. Also, when UDOT representative Mike Richardson negotiated with the residents regarding their properties, reduced access due to the medians was never a part of the conversation.
“I feel that we were not involved in a design build,” Councilman Brent Johnson said. Those in attendance clapped in response to Johnson’s statement.
Applegarth responded to Johnson’s statement.
“That’s the purpose of this meeting; Trace Robinson has been involved in the whole design effort and representing Riverton,” Applegarth said. “I believe if we proceed, we can cut through a lot of this given all of the people that are dedicated to this issue.”
According to Ford, accidents like rear-ending and side-swipes have the potential to go up in the areas where the raised medians are being put in because the medians restrict traffic. Restricting traffic can also leave an impact on surrounding neighborhoods. It could pose an issue for getting into the city offices, dropping children off at school and trying to get into their driveways that border Redwood Road, Ford said.
“We believe that the diverted traffic into the neighborhoods will pose a risk for neighborhood accidents,” Ford said. “We believe that we should not have to pay for the risks for the perceived safeties.”
The council will discuss this issue again in future city council meetings to determine whether a raised median or a painted median goes in at Redwood Road. The council will also discuss where to pull the funds from to fund the traffic lights at Christian Way and Western Charm Drive, which has met warrant, and at Riverton Ranch Road and 13035 South, which has yet to meet warrant.