Traffic-light wars in northern Weber County

Sunday , July 20, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

NORTH OGDEN – Farr West and Pleasant View have been given the green light by the Utah Department of Transportation to plan a traffic light at a future intersection at 2700 North and 1700 West, but North Ogden’s own light plans may intrude.

Because of a corridor agreement with UDOT, North Ogden and Harrisville need to sign off on the Farr West-Pleasant View project. North Ogden isn’t quite ready to make that commitment.

In a recent city council meeting, North Ogden’s mayor and city council expressed hesitancy over the deal because it would negate the city’s plans to ask UDOT to put a light at 300 West 2700 North when more commercial development is in place in the city.

Farr West City Councilman Paul Dinsdale spoke to the council about the city’s proposal for the light. Farr West and Pleasant View are planning for a major commercial development south of the McDonald’s and feel that the light will be necessary to move traffic safely. The cities hired a traffic engineer to do a study in the area to see if it would be warranted. That engineer proposed that the light would be necessary and made the plea to UDOT.

Darin Fristrup, Region 1 Traffic Engineer for UDOT, said the engineering study showed that the light would be necessary, but not until traffic volumes merit it, which will be after the development is complete. “It could be 5, 10, 15 years. It is solely based on traffic volumes and the need,” Fristrup said.

As part of the agreement the cities must sign there is a caveat that no other traffic lights can go in on 2700 North unless it is challenged by one of the cities. The caveat is what makes North Ogden hesitate. Mayor Brent Taylor pointed out where other future lights are planned and said there may need to be some amendments in more than one spot on the road. While Taylor said he didn’t mind if the light goes in at 1700 West if needed, he wanted to try to work with UDOT and the other cities before signing off on the agreement.

The city has been working with Better Cities, a commercial development company, to try to bring in a development just off 2700 North and west of Washington Boulevard. Once that is in, Taylor and council members said that a light would be necessary to help with the flow of traffic on both the north and south sides of 2700 North. Taylor pointed out that there have been multiple accidents in the space where there is a grocery store and several other businesses on the north side of the street already.

Dinsdale pointed out that his city's project is about an 80-acre development and significant enough that the light there would help move the flow of traffic even though there are already three lights between 1700 West and Interstate 15 already.

City Councilman Jim Urry and others expressed concern over Dinsdale’s proposal and how traffic would flow. “I guess we will just start calling 2700 North Riverdale North,” Urry said, adding that residents are concerned with too much commercial property going on that road thereby and making it difficult to get the freeway quickly.

“Well, this is basically a done deal,” Dinsdale said of the agreement to add the light.

But Fristrup said that is not so. “We want approval of all the cities before we move forward and we would be happy to come to the table and talk with North Ogden about options,” Fristrup said.

North Ogden’s attorney, Jon Call, said agreement with all four cities is not legally required for Farr West to have the light, but he agreed with Fristrup that UDOT would wait to move forward until all four cities agreed.

Taylor said North Ogden is not opposed to development in other cities and wants to be a good neighbor. “Cities are competing for sales tax dollars and I think we can make this light a win-win for our city if we go about it in the right way,” Taylor said of the 1700 West proposal. He just doesn't want to jump to sign an agreement until North Ogden has some security about what it needs.

Council members also expressed concern about the area around where the new Smith’s Marketplace will be on Washington Boulevard and how traffic will flow. “We have a lot to think about,” said city councilman Lynn Satterthwaite.

Fristrup said UDOT wants what is best and safest for the cities and commuters. He does realize that having the extra light where so many lights are already seems like it could be a concern, but the traffic study shows otherwise. “We want to optimize mobility and that’s why we have the corridor agreement,” Fristrup said. Dinsdale said UDOT also has plans to put one central point at the freeway similar to freeway intersections in Salt Lake City where there are five points of access at one spot. “That is far in the future, but that also helps with the traffic flow.”

North Ogden is waiting to meet with UDOT before signing the agreement.

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