Center Street dilemma debated in 2 cities in Davis County

Aug 20 2012 - 8:54pm

KAYSVILLE -- One small parcel of grass bisecting two streets on the border of Kaysville and Fruit Heights -- Center Street in Kaysville and Country Road in Fruit Heights -- is bringing out some long-standing concerns of city officials and residents in both communities.

Fruit Heights would like to connect the two streets, but after reviewing a traffic study completed by both cities last year, Kaysville City Council members have voted to connect two other roads -- 700 East to Laurelwood and 250 South -- rather than Center Street.

They will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. todayto consider vacating Center Street east of 760 East to the Fruit Heights border.

Vacating the land would permanently close the option of connecting the two streets.

Fruit Heights has offered to pay the expense of connecting the two streets, but as the land is a Kaysville city right of way, according to Fruit Heights City Engineer Brandon Jones, Fruit Heights does not have the ability to do anything with the road without permission from Kaysville.

Kaysville argues that any benefits gained from connecting the roads are outweighed by the negative impacts.

"We are trying to set past emotions behind and look at the data standpoint," Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt said.

Kaysville City Manager John Thacker said the results of the study indicated that connecting 250 South has a low impact on traffic and no impact on travel time.

Connecting 700 East to Laurelwood Drive would add 196 trips per day on 700 East.

Connecting Center Street and Country Road would result in an increase of more than 1,000 cars per day.

Hiatt acknowledged that connecting Center Street and Country Road would provide that area of Fruit Heights with faster emergency response times. However, the two proposed connections will also increase emergency response times, but without the large increase in traffic volume.

Fruit Heights receives its fire and ambulance services from Kaysville, while police services are provided by the Davis County Sheriff's Office.

Hiatt pointed out that the study indicated only eight emergency calls last year would have benefited from the potential Center Street connection. Kaysville City Council members do not feel that justifies the cost of improving the road and the increased traffic through the residential area.

Fruit Heights Mayor Todd Stevenson feels that is an invalid argument. He said emergency response time would be improved in that area by up to two minutes if the streets connected.

"What if it was your mother needing emergency response in that area?" Stevenson asked.

Hiatt contended that Center Street would have to be widened to accommodate the increased traffic, citing a typical travel lane is 11 to 12 feet wide, and the city would also have to provide additional width for parking on both sides of the street.

Jones, the Fruit Heights city engineer, said that according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the body that sets the standards for roads, the 33-foot width of their street fits the 32-foot recommendation AASHTO has set for handling that amount of traffic.

"It's currently handling traffic, and of course, we'll see an increase if it is connected, but it will spread the traffic out and doesn't change the functional classification of the road," Jones said. "The traffic study doesn't suggest that it will become a collector road, but rather serve the residents there for both cities."

Fruit Heights agrees that the traffic study does indicate an increase in traffic on the road, but contends that opening the road would also reduce traffic on other streets, including a 40 percent reduction on Green Road, which runs right in front of Burton Elementary School, Stevenson said.

"My biggest question is why they want to vacate the property," he said. "It is a permanent thing that you can't change down the road. Doing that is not a good public policy. My hope is that we can come to a solution that is beneficial to both cities."

Hiatt said the Kaysville City Council has had good dialogue with Fruit Heights over this issue for several years.

"Fruit Heights will have their opportunity to voice their concerns," Hiatt said of the upcoming public hearing. "It's not meant to be a public debate, but a public hearing. We've been talking plenty, but this will give them an opportunity to address decision makers directly."

Hiatt said the council will not vote on the issue at today's council meeting, but will take time to evaluate the public's input before a final decision is made.

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