Press enter to see results or esc to cancel.

I almost caused a crash on the Kilby Road roundabout today

The Jeremy Ranch roundabout construction is the gift that keeps on giving. I was exiting Fresh Market and was stopped. Cars were coming from the roundabout, and I assumed they would stop, because of the stop sign that has been there for months. Except the stop sign is now gone. I pulled out, saw the cars weren’t slowing, and I accelerated to avoid the collision. Now, I assume those other drivers were cursing my name — as they should have been.

Now, I don’t consider myself an idiot, although I’m sure some readers might disagree. I’m generally paying attention and have written quite a bit about the roundabout changes. Yet, I almost caused a big problem.

Why? That’s a damn good question.

Are the roundabouts big with lots of construction going on? Yeah. Has the construction been going on for months? Sure. Is it complicated? Of course? Yet, none of that rings true.

A person from New Jersey chimed in on the roundabout issues and commented that this project was actually better than they had seen in New Jersey.

The comment solidified the issue. The issue isn’t obtrusiveness; it’s the changing rules of the road. One day traffic moves in both directions around the circle. The next day it moves in one way. Some days there is no merging required, and some days, you have to cross lanes to get to your exit. Some days there is a stop sign, and some days there is a yield sign. Some days there is neither.

Oh, and at night, it is pitch black.

In the case of my issue this morning, the stop signs had always been there, but today they weren’t. Now, you could say, “just be observant.” When I circled to see where I messed up, that’s what I thought. “God, I have to be more observant.”

However, then I continued back through the gauntlet and tried to practice that. In some places, there are four or five different points you have to examine mentally in detail if everything can change. Imagine that every four-way stop that you ever came to required that you had to look at each individual intersection, deduce whether there was still a stop sign, whether there was a yield sign, had anything else changed, and nothing you knew before or had become accustomed was guaranteed. You’re no longer a driver; you’re a fighter pilot heading into enemy territory.

For those that don’t drive the Jeremy Roundabout daily, imagine the same scenario on highway 248 headed into Park City. Some days you would drive in the left lane. Some days you would drive in the right lane. Sometimes there would be a four-way stop at Wyatt Earp while other days it would be a one way stop. However, you never know what’s going to happen, so even if you don’t have a stop, you may want to stop. Buffalo Bill may have the right-away some days, and in that case, a yield sign pops up on 228. Otherwise, traffic on 228 can just blow through that intersection.

It’s dangerous.

Any time there is an accident, we as drivers are responsible. Yet whoever designs these changes has culpability. I don’t know if that’s Summit County, UDOT, or the road construction company. We’ll find out if something really goes bad.

We’ll get another chance to embrace change this week when it is all going to change on the Jeremy side.

The sooner this experiment finishes, the better. It’s mentally exhausting.

Wait, there was no rock thrown through the Superintendent’s window?

On Friday, the Sheriff’s Department investigated the rock thrown through Park City School Superintendent Gildea’s window at her residence in Jeremy Ranch. It turns out there was no rock — just a crappy window that broke because it was cold in the mountains.

The Park Record reported that the most definitive sign that a rock didn’t break the window was that the outer pane of the window and the screen were not broken. So, unless this was a magic rock, something else happened.

The problem is that everyone treated this as fact. The Park Record reported it, the school district talked about it, the school board penned a letter scolding the community, and even we at the Park Rag wrote something. I’ll still stand by my take; activism is better than violence.

We understand how the Superintendent and her family could be freaked out based on a Salt Lake news station stalking her house, accompanied by the negativity on social media. That said, this urban myth caused a ripple effect across the community.

In the aftermath, we were hoping the school district would come out and say, “sorry, we made a mistake,” much like Backcountry.com did. Instead, we received a statement from the school district saying, “District leadership and Superintendent Gildea are understandably relieved that the negative social media comments did not escalate to negative actions toward the district-owned property. The Superintendent has appreciated the kindness (and) thoughtful gestures this week from students, staff, and community members.”

The real consequence of the district being so wrong and vocal is that people don’t know what to believe. I’ll provide a personal example. When I found that the district pushed the myth so hard, I didn’t think they were lying — and still don’t. I think it was a story that fit into a narrative that got out of control.

However, then I kept hearing that the district agreed to an additional $200,000 to make improvements to the property. This is actually where the recent public uproar over the property started. Then I started wondering if that was really true? Was that part of the original plan when the school board voted to buy the property on September 4, 2018? Was it agreed to later by the school board? Was it part of this year’s budget discussions and formally agreed upon? Where did it come from?

I hadn’t even considered the question until there was no rock.

Putting my time where my question was, I spent hours this weekend researching that. I watched the school board meeting from last September, where they voted 3-1 to approve the $870,000 purchase. There was no mention of an extra $200K approved.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that during that meeting, School Board member Petra Butler questioned her fellow board members on how they can buy a house without ever seeing it. She said none of them would personally ever do that with their own home. What? The board voted to spend over $800K of our money and never looked at the property. The response was that the district’s Business Manager had looked at the property with the district’s Facilities Manager. This would be like voting for a $65 million bond for new schools, never looking at the plan, then voting for it because someone said they should. But I digress…

During that conversation, they mentioned several times that they were only spending $870K. So, I don’t think there was approval for $870,000 plus $200,000. I never heard an OK for buying a $1,070,000 home. When the board approved this purchase, did they know they have a fixer-upper on their hands that would take 25% more money to make it livable — where even the windows shatter when it gets cold? Maybe, but I never saw it.

Then I went through the agenda of every board meeting since the purchase. Again, I could find nothing. Maybe I missed it, and perhaps the board talked about how the house needs a lot more work than they thought, and then they approved the extra $200K. However, not finding it, I continued to look at this year’s budget.

I started by watching the budget presentation done in May. It was extremely informative but there was no discussion of the house renovations. The video of August’s ratification of the budget was even more informative. Yet, I could find no discussion of the $200K, which is real money. It’s two starting teacher salaries plus benefits.

Now, perhaps renovations to the house are no different than fixing issues at Treasure Mountain. Maybe it’s just all part of the facilities budget. Yet, did the board know when they bought the house? Did they sign up for it?

Or perhaps, the district said they would pay up to a million dollars for a house, and then they found something for $870K and just reckoned they had a couple of hundred grand in slush money — even though 870 + 200 is more than 1000.

When I finally email school board member Andrew Caplan, and we have a coffee (as discussed in an earlier story on this topic), he’ll probably have the answer. Yet, the point is that I no longer trust the narrative — even at a basic level. You get burnt in such a bad way, on a story that isn’t true, and you start to question everything.

I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. I hope every detail of the school’s Master Planning proposal is well documented, researched, and defensible. It won’t be enough to say, “isn’t it good for the children?” and “we met for months on this.”

Things in the school district became much harder because of this blunder.

Throwing rocks doesn’t change things but activism can

Where does vandalism against a school official and bullying by local company intersect? No, it’s not Welcoming Schools. It’s a lesson in how you elicit change.

Last week, Park City School District Superintendent Jill Gildea was a target of vandalism. A rock was thrown through her window. It could have been a disgruntled teenager upset over early start times at the high school. However, it was most likely an idiot who was upset at the School District for spending extra money on a house they bought for the Super. The only thing comical about the vandalism is that someone was so upset that the school district was spending money that they threw a rock. Now they have likely caused the school district and Summit County to spend thousands of more dollars in fixing the window, security services, and sheriff patrols.

Did throwing a rock through a window, terrifying a family, and getting community-wide condemnation achieve anything?

Contrast that with the uproar over Backcountry.com. They were suing any small business that used the word backcountry. The Colorado Sun published multiple stories about it. People became enraged. Boycott’s ensued.

Backcountry’s CEO responded:

Which approach to change was more successful — throwing a rock or activism?

The problem with the rock, besides of course demonstrating the worst in human beings, is that whoever threw it has made it harder for those of us who oppose purchasing a house to be used by the Superintendent. Now, those of us who don’t like how our tax dollars are spent are lumped in with the crazies. When I get up and speak in front of the school board and say I don’t like that we spent $800,000 on a fixer-upper that will need another couple hundred grand invested, I’ll be looked upon as a “Rock-thrower.” It will be the new derogatory term that replaces NIMBY. Thanks for that.

How could it have been handled differently?

  • Write a letter to the school board members expressing your concerns. Trust me, they read this stuff and consider it.
  • Go to every school board meeting for six months, and during the Public Comment period, say the same thing over and over. Speak your piece, and it may influence change.
  • Email your school board representative and ask them to meet for coffee so that you can plead your case.
  • Organize a Facebook group that says no more additional money for schools until the Super’s house is sold. PCSD’s Master Planning effort is going to end in a bond. South Summit’s bond failure tells you that anything is possible (whether it’s right or not).
  • Picket
  • Petition
  • Protest

Any of these ideas that took me ten minutes to come up with would be more effective at achieving change than throwing a rock.

Violence is rarely the answer. I get why it is happening in Hong Kong, but we have other methods here. If you don’t like what the school board is doing, vote them out. Organize and find like-minded people. They are out there. You can achieve change. We can achieve change, but we need to do it in the right way. We should do it in a way that is thoughtful, considerate, and effective.

Intimidation and violence don’t solve anything. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be spiteful. We as a community need to be better than that.

Is it BackCountry.com or BadCountry.com?

It always pains us to see local companies doing crappy things. 

In this case, Backcountry.com, a Utah-based company and a significant employer in Park City, appears to be a crappy corporate citizen. According to The Colorado Sun, “Backcountry.com a year ago filed for trademarks protecting the word backcountry for all sorts of outdoor gear as the online retailer launched its first-ever branded jackets, skis and apparel. Now the e-commerce behemoth is suing small business owners.” The story recounts several cases where Back Country appears to be a bully.

Effectively, it appears the company sued all sorts of companies who use the term backcountry for a product name. Sell some skis that have have backcountry in the title, you may be sued. Sell some clothing with the word backcountry in the description and the hammer may come down. We aren’t sure that if your company did some sort of backcountry ski touring, that it would be safe either.  

This verges on the same level as Vail trademarking Park City. In one case, you have a company trademarking a place we live. In this case, we have a company trademarking a thing that many of us do. So far, it appears Back Country has not commented on the story. Being as they are now owned by a VC firm out of Michigan, I’m not sure we will hear much. But it does appear that Back Country doesn’t have the same values that many of us in Park City have.

That said, if you work for BackCountry.com in Redstone, your nugget has definitely lost some shine. However, if you work there, you may have the only influence over righting the course of the ship.

It appears that boycotts are mounting over this issue. Count us in on that. We’ve always had good luck with Moose Jaw. Or you could shop Cole Sport or Jans which would be even more local.

It’s time to admit that the Jeremy Roundabout project is screwed up. No revisionist history will fix that.

Sometimes I think that our Summit County leaders don’t live in the same world we do. Do they come over to Jeremy and see what’s happening with the roundabouts? Do they see the cars going the wrong way through the roundabout and almost causing head-on collisions? Do they see the trucks that just randomly stop and block lanes, so you have to go the wrong way?

For example, I was waiting at the Jeremy Roundabouts the afternoon for about 10 minutes, trying to get to the elementary school. When the construction worker allowed me through the intersection, my Jeep was almost hit by the excavator as it swung around as I drove through the dirt. Decapitation via excavator a day after halloween would be surreal.

Yet, the whole thing is a mess. No one in their right mind, who would drive through the Pinebrook or Jeremy Roundabouts, would conclude anything differently. In Utah we would say things are EFFED UP. In most of the rest of the country they would have more choice words.

Summit County has done a good job of communicating about roundabout traffic flow changes. The County’s PR person, Krachel Murdoch relentlessly tells the public about what’s happening via Facebook, NextDoor and any other medium available. I feel for her. She is like a Boeing Media Specialist WILLING you to believe the 737 MAX-800 will some day be air-worthy. Yet, talk is talk and walk is walk.

The fact that the construction crews are working on the roundabouts at 5:30PM on a Friday afternoon tells you everything you need to know, when they were gone at 3PM most of the summer. That they are working weekends now tells you even more.

Yet, many of the County’s communications read straight out of Orwell. We have always been at war with East Asia. In this case they seem to try to convince us that we are on schedule and if only it hadn’t snowed on Halloween and if there weren’t buried pipes things would be perfect. Every construction project has unforeseen, buried issues. It usually snows by Halloween. It’s cold here in the Fall. It’s not an excuse.

The truth is they started too late.

If you go back to early KPCW interviews, the County indicated they would start the roundabouts in April. They did’t really start until the third week of June. A middle-schooler who had read Jack London would recognize that you never start a project, in the mountains, unless you start on time.

So let’s be straight up regardless of how painful the conversation is. Summit County Public works screwed up Kilby Rd. The winding nature of the road and the the bike lanes demonstrated a lack of competence and a danger to citizens. Trying to do two roundabouts — some of the largest in Utah history at the same time — when you start late further makes us question if they are up to task.

My only hope is that UDOT will demand a plan that allows their snow plows to operate. That in turn will hopefully make it so cars can pass safely through the gauntlet after 24 inches of snow. God help me that I am putting my hopes on UDOT.

Let’s not forget that Summit County pushed the roundabouts to get done this Fall. There was some burning desire to push it through (likely to allow More development along Rasmussen Rd.). UDOT was looking at doing it in the next 10 – 20 years. So, it is really all on Summit County. The buck stops there.

Time is running out to make the roundabouts functional within the next couple of weeks. Faith is also running out. Roads construction in November costs a lot of money. I’d like to implore the county to do something to fix the roundabouts, but I’m not sure what they can really do.

So we are left with praying for warm weather and no snow. Just what you want in a mountain town as winter approaches.

Then next summer, once the roundabouts are completed, we can implore the County to stop. Fill in pot holes. Overlay asphalt. Do what you are good at. But no more roads. Nothing big. Just stop.

Unfortunately we know that’s not going to happen.

Good luck people of Silver Creek. Your Bitner Road Connector is right around the corner.

Concern in Park City over Welcoming Schools seems overblown

If you haven’t kept up on the latest uproar in Park City, let me introduce you to Welcoming Schools. Welcoming Schools is a professional development course for teachers. It focuses on bullying.

A group of Trailside elementary parents don’t like this program for a variety of reasons. Some have stated that it appears to focus on gender-based bullying (i.e., LGBTQ, transgender, etc.) and not other types of bullying. Some take that a step further and equate this program with teaching sex education. They argue that this requires parental consent in Utah. Some feel the program is too controversial, and the school district should find another plan. There are likely other individual concerns, as well. The outcome of these fears is a cease and desist letter from a law firm telling the School District to stop the Welcoming Schools program.

Those supporting the Welcoming Schools program argue that this training is purely for teachers and that it doesn’t directly impact students. They argue that Park City Schools are required to have an anti-bullying program, so why not this one? They say that there are all types of bullying, including gender and LGBTQ bullying, and teachers need tools to handle this in their classrooms.

On Tuesday evening, a group of people in support of Welcoming Schools held a meeting at the Visitor’s Center to dispell the myths of the program, answer questions, and provide an opportunity for dialog. Around seventy-five people attended the meeting, representing many sides of the issue. Despite the divisiveness of the issue, it was a very adult conversation devoid of yelling or screaming.

While the crowd appeared mostly in support of Welcoming Schools, questions were brought up. Questions included … “To avoid a law-suit, shouldn’t we just find another program?” “What about bullying of politically-conservative students — not because they are gay, but because they are pro-Trump?”Others were concerned with the group backing the program, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and said we should be looking for a different program that everyone can get behind.”

Tuesday’s community gathering was a civilized discussion mainly due to the efforts of the meeting’s organizer Lara Valdes-Postula and the moderator Mary Christa Smith. They created an environment where all views could be shared in a respectful environment. Yet, the entire discussion around this issue has not been civilized. Emails were sent by a group called Stop Welcoming Schools to members of the Trailside Elementary School community that called the program an indoctrination in the LGBTQ community and a sexual education class. The principal of Trailside, Carolyn Synan, has been accused of peddling falsehoods and having an insidious mission. The lawyers for Stop Welcoming Schools say that “Welcoming Schools is a program designed to change the way students and teachers think.”

UMM, isn’t that the purpose of schools? To learn? Yes, students may want to change the way they think. They may decide they want to be more compassionate and inclusive.

So, what do we at the Park Rag think? Like most things substantial, it’s a complicated issue. You have parental concerns over what is taught to their children versus a need to teach children about inclusion so they are better human beings.

The Park Rag often takes a stance against many actions by our school district, Summit County, and Park City. But this isn’t one of those times. I personally support the efforts of Park City Schools to use a tool like Welcoming Schools.

Having two small children in elementary school in Park City, I have seen more than I ever expected. Teachers need every tool at their disposal to work with our kids and their diverse set of needs. If Welcoming Schools provides teachers with approaches to answering questions about diversity, gender, and other issues, that’s a win. If it provides tools to teach children about these topics, so children become more accepting, then that’s even better.

That said, I understand how some people could get worried over the marketing that Welcoming Schools uses and what that means about the program. If you peruse the Welcoming Schools website, the home page is very pro-LGBTQ based. Again, I don’t personally care. You love who you love. You are who you are. In the immortal words of XTC, “any kind of love is alright.” So, the home page fits into my belief system.

However, it doesn’t speak to everyone. Some people don’t believe their children should be exposed to transgender, LGBTQ, or other “alternative” messages. I disagree, but I understand that some feel that way. People are different.

What I would say to concerned parents is that I generally understand what you are concerned with. However, first, we should acknowledge that this is professional development for teachers. This program gives teachers ideas and techniques on how to deal with gender-based (and other) items as they arise. If a kid is being bullied because he or she has two moms or two dads at home, what does a teacher say? How do they handle it? This provides some tools.

I could also see some parents concerned with the sample lesson plans provided by Welcoming Schools. There are lesson plans like Jacob’s New Dress: Understanding Gender Expression and I Am Jazz: Understanding Transgender Children. If some parents read only the titles of the plans, they may be concerned. However, when I delve into the details of these lesson plans, they are generally about understanding and embracing differences. It’s not some hidden agenda to change your kid. It’s a program designed to celebrate who our children are and respect others for who they are.

Overall it seems Welcoming Schools provides teachers with tools. Tools can be used for both good and bad. It’s the teacher that makes the difference, just like any craftsperson. I have faith in our teachers that they are going to teach our kids to be accepting and tolerant. What is wrong with that? If a teacher strays too far, then a parent can decide to bring out the torches and pitchforks.

I also understand the argument that this program focuses on gender issues and that many other types of bullying need to be addressed. I completely agree with that. If this is the sole anti-bullying training in the district, it’s not doing enough for our kids.

In the last couple of months, I have seen one family have to move their child from Park City public schools because of fake stories about their kid. In another case, a child’s thumb was almost broken by someone acting like a bully on the playground. The Welcoming Schools curriculum would do little to address either of these.

That said, Welcoming Schools, or something similar, should be part of the arrows in the quiver to stop bullying. Do we need to do more than Welcoming Schools? Of course. This program is part of the solution but we need more. Our kids should be given every chance to learn tolerance, compassion, and kindness.

Yes, bullying will happen. Unfortunately, it seems to be part of human nature. We need to give teachers the tools to help our kids with issues like these. We shouldn’t stop a program like Welcoming Schools that addresses at least part of our needs. We should find a way to build on top of it to meet as many children’s needs as possible .

If you’d like to watch the community meeting about the subject, please see below.

Park City, Social Equity, and Severance

Goodbye Diane Foster. You seemed like a good City Manager. You managed through a period of change and always appeared competent. If Tom Fisher decides to leave Summit County at some point, I would welcome you to the Summit County County Manager position. But you’re likely moving on to bigger and better things.

Yet, your untimely firing departure has left me with a question. Does Park City Municipal actually practice social equity? 

Yes, Park City invested a hundred thousand dollars in hiring Park City Community Foundation to “mobilize its deep convening experience to bring the community together in a coalition that will perform a social equity self-diagnosis, identify existing social equity resources and gaps, prioritize the most significant and addressable social equity challenges, develop a multiyear strategic plan, and support Park City Municipal Corporation in ensuring it serves a wide range of constituents.”

That’s very Park City. It sounds great, I suppose. 

Diane, if the Park Record was right, you received a year’s severance — about $140,000. Some seem offended at that notion, but I’m happy for you. You get one day’s notice, and then you’re shown the door. That could upend almost anyone’s life. You deserve it. You’ve done well for Park City.

Yet, Park City has many employees. Many of them also have done well for Park City. Do they all have severance packages that can pay out a year’s salary? Does a Park City building maintenance person get months of salary in severance? Does a Librarian? Does a mechanic? Does everyone single employee? They should get the same deal as the City Manager. That is, if we actually practice social equity.

Perhaps someone will surprise me and tell me that every employee of Park City Municipal gets a year or more of severance pay if they are fired without cause. If so, good on you Park City. You’re walking the walk.

If all employees don’t receive that social safety net, but some do, that’s not equitable. It reminds me that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

If one of the city’s highest priorities is social equity, shouldn’t everyone live without the fear of being let go? Shouldn’t everyone, not only managers, lawyers, and other executives, be treated the same? Shouldn’t everyone get at least six months of pay if they are let go, especially if some employees are afforded that?

Diane, I realize that’s not your problem anymore, but it is Park City’s problem. God speed to you. I know you will do well wherever you land.

And God help Park City. Hopefully, I’m wrong, and at a city level, equity is provided to all employees. That’s all within the city’s power. If they aren’t, the city’s whole social-equity-show seems a little hypocritical.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office continues to impress

About five years ago, we wrote a story about how a Summit County Sheriff’s deputy likely saved lives by “herding” a group of 50 elks from entering I-80, using his truck. It was an impressive feat of ingenuity and judgment.

Yesterday, I witnessed something that, while not as ingenious, showed even greater judgment. Tuesday was the first day of school across the Park City School District. I was biking home after dropping off my kids at school. As I headed up a hill in Jeremy Ranch, around the corner came a Summit County Sheriff’s SUV. Two deputies were in the vehicle and were scanning the area.

I assume they had at least two goals. First, they were likely trying to get traffic to slow down since school had just started. There is nothing worse than cars speeding past kids waiting on buses. Second, most robberies happen in broad daylight when people are away from their homes. There would be few better times to rob a house than shortly after school starts. No one is home, and everyone is distracted. So, I think they served as a deterrent to that activity.

So thanks to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. As my friend, who I was biking with said, “That’s good sheriffing.”

Yep.

The Jeremy Ranch roundabout construction will wreak havoc on school traffic

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Park City Schools start in less than 24 hours, and the Jeremy and Pinebrook roundabout construction looks like a Syrian war zone. Unfortunately, that’s not unexpected.

In a March 19th interview on KPCW, Summit County Public Works Director Derrick Radke said, “The way the specifications are setup so that the contractor has to be done paving by the first of October. Given normal construction slips, if they are done by mid-October, we still have good enough weather to pave.”

That was the plan with a mid-May start. Roundabout construction actually started a little more than a month later than expected. So, I’m hoping for a warm Fall and a Christmas christening.

Whether the construction crews finish in mid-October or stretch it toward the baby-Jesus’ birthday, one fact remains… The impacts of this project are going to be disruptive to the entire Park City community.

The project will impact everyone who lives in Jeremy and Pinebrook, anyone who goes to school at Jeremy, anyone who teaches at Jeremy, anyone who teaches or attends Weilenmann, every student who rides a bus in the Park City School District, and any teacher who’s classroom has a student who rides a bus in the school district.

Everything and everybody will be behind — for months.

Summit County may look at the Summer so-far and believe that everything is going fine with traffic changes. It has been OK because there is little traffic. However, the school year is another animal. There is no Summer traffic in Jeremy or Pinebrook — except for I-80 traffic coming from Salt Lake around 5 PM. Come this Tuesday (and Wednesday for Weilenmann) the 8 AM school traffic will impact everyone in Jeremy and Pinebrook.

Anticipated impacts of Jeremy Ranch Roundabouts

I believe there will be five key areas impacted. The off-ramp from I-80 into Jeremy is often backed up on a typical school day. However, with roundabout changes, this off-ramp is now one lane (instead of two). Expect it to be backed up onto I-80 (impact A on the map).

The second impact area (Impact B on the map) is traffic that is trying to either enter I-80 West or go to Jeremy Ranch Elementary from I-80 or Pinebrook. This traffic will likely back-up and impact Homestead Road and I-80 off-ramp traffic.

Impact C will cause issues leaving Jeremy Ranch Elementary. Previously, there were two lanes at the intersection of Homestead and Rasmussen roads — one for people turning left and one for people going straight or right. Now there is one, tight lane. The reduction to one lane will slow the exodus from the school and likely cause an extreme back-up.

The fourth impact (D on the map) is related to parents going to Weilenmann on Wednesday (their first day of school). To get there, they either need to get off I-80 at Summit Park or go through a gauntlet at Quarry Village (either the official detour or the Quarry Village cut-through). I think the gauntlet is going to be hell.

The fifth impact will be to busing across the district. Because Park City School buses have not obtained the power of flight, they will be subject to the same delays as anyone in a car. Jill Gildea, the Park City School Superintendent stated, “Due to the roundabout construction as Jeremy Ranch, we anticipate transportation delays at all schools this year.” Because the same school buses are used throughout the district, it will be interesting to see the district-wide impacts on school start times.

Summit County’s recommendation to help alleviate the issue is to carpool. Maybe a few people will do that, but I won’t hold my breath. My advice is to leave early and plan on practicing Serenity Now through at least Halloween. If you live in certain parts of Jeremy Ranch (areas behind the school), biking or walking to school may make sense.

What I don’t understand is the rush to start and finish this project. Why didn’t Summit County break the two roundabouts into two projects? They could have completed the Pinebrook side, which was actually the more significant congestion point (5 PM traffic from SLC) in year one. Then in year two, complete the Jeremy side. That would have given them a better chance of completing the projects in the summer and would have minimized impacts during the school year.

Second, this project got a late start, so why didn’t they postpone it? In March, Summit County was talking about utility working beginning in April and dirt-moving in mid-May. Instead, utility work started in mid-June and dirt began moving during the third week of June. If the county was insistent on doing two roundabouts at once, why not push the project to 2020? They could have started in April, had minimal impact on schools in May, and finished in early September. Yes, there would still be impacts, but they would be reduced.

Third, the rush to complete the project may lead to a less optimal outcome. Jennifer Terry, who has worked hard for a decade on pedestrian passages under I-80 tried to encourage Summit County to rethink their sidewalks on the Pinebrook side of I-80. She was told that they were moving forward and would not consider anything else. That’s not the right attitude for something that is planned to last until 2050.

Regardless of history, we are where we are. If Summit County thinks they heard complaints on Kilby Rd, they probably haven’t heard anything yet. There’s nothing like hundreds of parents complaining in unison. Ask the School Board about that one.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe it will go fine. We’ll know beginning tomorrow morning — and live with whatever it is for the rest of the Fall.

We’re still not comfortable with the Jeremy Roundabout plans

Summit County is in damage control mode – yet again. This time it’s the Jeremy Ranch Pinebrook roundabout project, and as with Kilby, safety for pedestrians and cyclists is the issue.

We think the County’s response (and design requirements) say a lot about how they think about this kind of project, and demonstrate that they’re generally clueless when it comes to building a transportation system. In a Nextdoor post about this topic, Krachel Murdock (Summit County community affairs liaison), had this to say:

“We’ve heard your questions about pedestrian and bike improvements that will be included as part of the upcoming Jeremy Ranch Roundabouts project. This project will provide full north-south connectivity – allowing pedestrians and cyclists to travel from Quarry Village to Jeremy Ranch Elementary without ever using the roads! “

Sounds fantastic, right?

Here’s the problem – most of Pinebrook all of the lower area within bike/walk distance of JRES) is zoned for Parley’s Park elementary – not Jeremy Ranch. Pretty much every resident of Jeremy, on the other hand, sends their kids to JRES. So crossing under the highway between Quarry Village and JRES is an almost useless “accommodation” for 99% of us.

Maybe a few teachers from JRES would like to hit Billy Blanco’s for a burrito and a margarita at lunch, and would love to ride their bikes to get there. Awesome. But for the hundreds of kids that live within a mile or two of JRES in Jeremy, these are literally tunnels to nowhere.

Let’s say we take the county at their word that
1) The money just isn’t there to build more tunnels
and
2) This project has to happen NOW, we can’t possibly wait until more funding is available.

Even given those (dubious) priors, tunnel money would be better spent crossing Homestead (access to JRES for Jeremy kids, and access to Rasmussen Path/Kimball Junction for everyone in Jeremy) and Pinebrook Road (access to Ecker MS and Kimball Junction for residents of Summit Park and Timberline). Tunnels at those locations would actually improve the usability of the system as a whole for the people who want to use it.

Of course, crossing the on/off ramps without a tunnel would be terrifying (as it is now). We should have tunnels there too! But the north-south crossing is less used and less useful to the people living in the area than east-west, so if we’re doing transportation-system triage – that’s where we should be looking.

It’s clear that no one at the county uses the paths they fund and design because even the most casual of bike riders know that most of the bike traffic from Jeremy and Pinebrook is traveling east-west, not crossing under I-80.

As a reminder – we’ll be living with this project for the next 30 years. The County says they’ll “monitor” the situation and request more funding for pedestrian and bike amenities in the future – but we all know that once the concrete is poured and the utilities are in place, there’s little chance of significant improvements going forward.

Let’s do it right. On a nice spring day, we want 100+ bikes parked at the racks at JRES – as well as a smoothly flowing morning commute through the roundabouts.

There’s a mode of failure that doesn’t involve pedestrian injuries or fatalities – it’s when we make something that frightens pedestrians so much that they give up and drive instead. Clearly, that kind of failure is perfectly acceptable to the geniuses who brought you Kilby road.