Kaysville looks at traffic concerns at Main and Fairfield on Mutton Hollow RoadMay 12, 2023 11:57AM ● By Cindi Mansell
The intersection at Main and Fairfield on Mutton Hollow Road. The city is looking at whether there are traffic or safety issues at either. Photo by Cindi Mansell
Kaysville City has been looking at Mutton Hollow Road between Fairfield and Main Street for the last five or six years, including the two intersections mentioned above. As part of this process, during the engineering and design phases, city staff has looked at these intersections to evaluate if there are any modifications that are warranted or if there are traffic/safety issues at either.
Formal engineering analysis for roadways and intersections collects and analyzes data such as: traffic volumes, speeds, number of vehicles making different turning movements (right hand turns, thru, left hand turns), topography, road widths, and pedestrian volumes. Using that data, entities then compare locations with published engineering guidelines and regulations to help determine if changes or modifications are recommended or not.
A circa 2017 study performed by an engineering consultant evaluated those same intersections on Mutton Hollow. The results of that study showed that among the nine categories to evaluate and determine if a traffic signal is warranted, the Main Street intersection did warrant a signal. Fairfield came close on some categories but did not meet enough categories for a signal at that time.
In 2021, when Public Works Director Josh Belnap started working on engineering plans for repaving Mutton Hollow, staff decided to include the two intersections in the scope of that project. They knew Main Street warranted a signal, but as Fairfield had not previously met the requirements for a signal, other alternatives were considered. One reason for exploring another alternative was partly due to the significant traffic backups that can currently be seen at this 4-way stop, particularly for north bound traffic on Fairfield in afternoon/evenings. At times, these backups can stretch more than 700-1,000 feet to the south.
First, Kaysville looked at a roundabout in this location. It took several months to work on a potential design that was specific for that location, but as they got through the design, the roundabout may have required the purchase of a least one of the homes at the intersection (and a good portion of property of others) to install it. Staff decided to run a signal warrant study here again to see if anything had changed since the previous study; the result of that subsequent study was that a signal was now warranted at that location. “As time goes on, populations grow and with that comes an increase in vehicle and pedestrian traffic,” Belnap said. “That is why not meeting categories at one point does not mean they would not be met later.”
Belnap said individuals have reached out to them throughout this process and indicated disapproval if a signal was installed. “I’ve also had individuals reach out and indicate they would challenge the city if a signal was not installed there.” Engineering decisions are not based on what people like or do not like; if the data and analysis recommend something, then that needs to be done.
Today, Mutton Hollow and Fairfield is a 4-way stop. It is interesting to note that is an intersection with significant traffic backups. Belnap said. “Some think the city is only making changes based on vehicles or caring about vehicles over everything else; that’s not the case, as it is just one part of what is done when evaluating existing roads and designing new projects.”
The main argument received from opponents is that a signal will not be safe, yet the proponents feel the 4-way stop is not safe. “There is no road, intersection, traffic, or signal that is free of some amount of risk, but that does not mean everything is inherently unsafe either,” said Belnap.
Currently, city staff are moving forward on plans to install signals at both locations. Belnap recognizes that some people may not like this but his obligation as a professional engineer and responsibility as the Public Works Director is to make sound decisions based on good data to enhance safety in both the present and future quality of community life. λ