News & Media

Underpass given go ahead: County and city say they support the idea, hesitant about trailhead location

by Sarah Moffitt (The Park Record)
August 14, 2012

Despite being told they could not use an empty piece of land as a parking lot or trailhead by Summit County and Park City officials, the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District is moving forward with plans to build a pedestrian underpass beneath U.S. 40 near the Silver Summit interchange.

Basin Recreation recently learned that the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) had $700,000 set aside for Summit County, about half of the total amount needed for the project. The underpass would serve as a trail connector for residents and a wildlife crossing to mitigate road kill.

Last week, the Summit County Council and officials from Park City told Basin Recreation that they could not use the jointly-owned parcel of land known as the triangle parcel for the underpass because the process was “too rushed.”

Diane Foster, deputy Park City manager, said it made her nervous to have the wildlife corridor end on the triangle parcel because it may limit what they can build on it in the future.

County Council member Chris Robinson agreed, adding that just because someone is offering up the money, doesn’t mean the project should be rushed and planned in less than three weeks.

Currently, the underpass is proposed to be built underneath U.S. 40 near milepost 2. Basin Recreation Public Affairs Manager Bonnie Park said despite the county and city’s denial, they will explore other trailhead options and move ahead with plans.

“We met with wildlife officials, UDOT, city and county representatives and all decided this underpass is necessary and that this is the best location,” Park said. “We need to tell UDOT by September 1 if we are willing to put forward the other half of the funds and take part in this project and that isn’t enough time for the city and county to plan the triangle parcel. So as of now, we think we will just use the frontage road along the freeway and make some off-road parking and use that as our trailhead.”

The county and city gave Basin Recreation the go-ahead to pursue the underpass without using the triangle parcel and said as they plan a use for the parcel in the next year, they will keep in mind Basin Recreation’s needs.

Division of Wildlife Representative Pat Kramer confirmed that the underpass could serve as a mixed-use underpass for pedestrians and wildlife as long as it is built correctly.

“That is a high kill area on U.S. 40 and we will put in place fencing to make that underpass the main wildlife crossing,” he said. “The wider the underpass is the better. As of now we are thinking it will be 12 feet-high and 20 feet-wide, the right size for use by elk. The underpass will be used by people during the day and the animals at night most likely.”

Park said after all of the meetings with officials she is hopeful the underpass will become a reality and the biggest challenge now is raising the rest of the money.

“We will meet with the County Council next week and then should be able to tell UDOT an answer by the first of September,” she said. “It is hard to say no to that much money but the project is requiring us to think long and short-term in a very short amount of time.”