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Draper Journal

Summer road work is starting and restrictions for trucks on Traverse will soon take effect

May 29, 2022 01:13PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]

Too many accidents, including one fatality last fall, and numerous near-misses are prompting the city to put restrictions in place for trucks using Traverse Ridge Road. Several summer road projects will soon start around the city as will work by Google Fiber. Brake maintenance is strongly suggested for anyone who frequently drives down from SunCrest where speed limit enforcement is focused on, and drivers are asked to slow down and practice patience.

“If we don’t do something, there’s going to be another fatality on this road,” said Scott Cooley, Draper’s Public Works director/city engineer, about Traverse Ridge Road.

Cooley addressed the council in early March about complaints of speeding as well as accidents on Traverse Ridge Road. He said the city conducted several studies in the past six months to come up with recommendations, this after he confirmed there have been 11 accidents on that road in the past decade, three resulting in death.

 “We’re really negligent if we don’t do something,” said councilmember Fred Lowry.

Cooley clarified that the issues of speed and accidents on Traverse are separate. To address speeding, police have amped up enforcement. Restrictions are not yet in place for trucks, but they will be soon after the council approves code change. “The restriction will be for truck traffic with three axles or more, so any trucks that are two axles are fine. We’re going to eliminate that truck traffic in the downhill direction from the intersection of SunCrest Drive and Traverse Ridge Road all the way down to Mike Weir Drive. The hill has a 10% grade and those trucks in particular struggle to keep their speed low enough so their brakes don’t fail by overheating. Most of the accidents have happened below Mike Weir Drive, but the brake failures happen because of the steep grade above that.”

Trucks with three axles or more can continue to go uphill on Traverse Ridge Road, but they’ll have to go downhill from SunCrest on the Lehi side. “That road isn’t as steep,” Cooley said.

According to Cooley, in the past two years, two trucks have had to intentionally crash to avoid hitting someone else on that segment of road, and the death of a woman last fall on the Bangerter Extension was a result of a truck that lost its brakes. He noted that passenger vehicles have also lost their brakes on that road, but the deaths have been a result of crashes involving trucks with three axles or more.

Though the restrictions are being placed on bigger trucks, city officials would encourage residents who frequently drive down Traverse from SunCrest or South Mountain to keep up on their car maintenance. “I’d like to bring awareness that there have been passenger vehicle crashes that have been caused by brake failure. For anyone who travels that road on a regular basis, it would be a good idea to make sure their brakes are properly adjusted and in good working condition,” Cooley said. He couldn’t definitely say if the state no longer requiring both Safety and Emissions testing (only emissions testing is required in recent years) has or hasn’t compounded the problem of drivers being unaware their brakes aren’t working properly.

Where city road projects are concerned, there aren’t as many planned this summer as in years past. Still, several will be happening throughout the summer into fall. “This year isn’t going to be as impactful as some in the past, depending on where you live,” said Cooley.

The biggest project will be the widening of 1300 East from Nashi Lane to Highland Drive. The road has been widened north of that, so it’s a continuation. But because this is a federally funded project controlled by UDOT, it’s possible it may be postponed until next spring. The plan is for two new signals, one at the intersection of 13800 South/Wayne’s World and 1300 East, the other at the intersection of 1300 East and Highland Drive. “That area is going to become much more efficient with high-T intersections that allow for free travel in the top part of the T without restrictions of having to stop with signals unless a pedestrian is there,” Cooley said.

Deer Ridge Drive in SunCrest is slated for reconstruction and the water transmission line is being replaced. Residents can anticipate temporary signals during water line construction, but there will likely be flaggers when road construction is underway. Cooley anticipates completion this summer, October at the latest.

Reconstruction of the pavement of Minuteman Drive from Highland to Sprague Lane by Harmon’s Bangerter location is set to begin in July. And Southfork Drive from Bangerter to Minuteman will also be reconstructed.

The roundabout on Pioneer Road and 1300 East, originally slated to be reconstructed last summer, won’t happen until spring 2023. “The design has been completed and some utility relocation has been done in preparation, but because of cost and limiting closure…we wanted to ensure we had the right plan in place to minimize the time we have closures in place,” Cooley said.

Todd Hammond, senior engineering manager for Draper Public Works Department, explained that the design will change that roundabout to two northbound and two southbound lanes. The east and west legs will be widened to provide one through lane and one right-turn-only lane entering the roundabout. The project also includes enhanced street lighting and flashing signs for each of the three crosswalks.

Google Fiber will be starting their work around the city. “They’re going to take the city in parts at a time. They aren’t all over the city randomly, we keep those in check. That’s probably going to go on for a year and a half to two years,” Cooley said.