South Salt Lake • Granite School District fears that current plans for the future Mountain View Corridor freeway could create deadly traffic havoc for Hunter High School students.
After hearing from concerned parents Tuesday, the school board voted 6-1 to ask the Utah Department of Transportation to consider moving a planned interchange at 4100 South where it would border Hunter High and an off-ramp would impact access to its parking lot to 4700 South instead.
Teri Newell, UDOT's project manager for Mountain View, told the board UDOT will work with the district and community to review options, but said UDOT's environmental review process ruled it is wiser to have an interchange at 4100 South. UDOT already has started earthwork near 4700 South, assuming no interchange will go there.
Newell said 4700 South was eliminated for an interchange in part because it continues only a short way to the west beyond where it would intersect with Mountain View, so an interchange there would not take enough traffic off local streets. But 4100 South goes through for miles to the west, and would be a better conduit to Mountain View.
She also said that a power station, water tanks and railroad tracks at 4700 South make it difficult to have an interchange there without expensive relocations.
The logistical difficulties didn't faze some residents.
"My concern is that we decided it is easier to go to 4100 South, so we are going to sacrifice the safety of our students," Cornell Porter, a concerned parent, said. "It may be difficult on 47th, but I'd much rather see a water tower, or power station or even a railroad moved than to lose some of our youth."
Porter also spoke as president of the LDS Hunter Central Stake, and said hundreds of the church's members would be put at risk daily because Hunter High's access to 4100 South would become a right-turn-only entrance and exit. He worries students would try to cut across lanes of traffic to make a U-turn at the busy intersection of 4100 South and 5600 West.
"It's an accident or accidents waiting to happen," he warned.
Hunter High School Principal John Welburn agreed, and said the plan feeding off-ramp traffic directly where Hunter students would be trying to enter traffic is dangerous.
Mark Goodman, a stake presidency counselor to Porter, said while Hunter students can use a second parking lot exit onto 5600 West, that would also direct many back to its intersection with 4100 South which he said is busy, and where two students were killed last May.
Newell assured that UDOT will study traffic at the Hunter High parking lot, and review options.
"We certainly don't want to do anything to make anyone feel that this is unsafe for the kids," she said.
Newell said the first phase of construction on Mountain View between 5400 South and 4100 South is scheduled to be funded in 2014 essentially to build future frontage roads, while the freeway will be built between them at a later date.