NIBLEY – In its 2.5-mile stretch through Nibley, SR 165’s speed limit is 50 mph, has two northbound lanes, two southbound lanes and a turning lane. One thing it doesn’t have is a way to stop traffic so pedestrians can cross. That is something Mayor Shaun Dustin hopes to change, but there are obstacles in the way.
Getting pedestrians safely across SR 165 has been a priority of Dustin’s since he was elected last year. He said he used to watch a young kid try to cross the road to get to the Maverik convenience store almost daily around 7:30 a.m. during his commute to work. This was while the heavy morning traffic was heading north to Logan.
He said he doesn’t want to wait for a kid get to hit before something is done.
According to Dustin, the problem for those who want a crosswalk is that Nibley has no say as to whether one goes in or not. The road is owned by the state and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) makes the decisions.
“There is one traffic light in Nibley,” he said. “It’s the one opportunity we have to stop traffic. UDOT has told us repeatedly that they’re not going to do it.”
The intersection at 3200 South is the intersection with the traffic signal. It is a three-way intersection and forms a ‘T’. According to UDOT traffic engineer Darin Fristrup, if the intersection was a four-way stop a crosswalk would be installed, but because it is a ‘T’ intersection it has to meet additional requirements in order for something to go in.
Those requirements require 20 pedestrians in the area during the peak hour of the day, the hour where there are the most pedestrians. A study was done in June 2013, but the road failed to meet the requirements, Fristrup said.
“(For the study) you’re looking at the number of pedestrians in the area because as of right now there isn’t a crosswalk,” Fristrup said. “So you can even consider the pedestrians going north and south as well. Back in the study the peak hour was four. There were only four pedestrians.”
Dustin said he would like UDOT to make an exception to the rule.
“The state kept telling us nobody crosses that street, there’s no need to have any kind of traffic control on the street,” he said “But the fact of the matter is that kids do cross that street. It might sound a little bit silly, but all of us were 10 years old once. When you’re 10 years old and you’ve got a buck in your pocket and there’s a Maverik on the other side of the highway, you’re going to go buy a candy bar.”
Fristrup said the rules are put in place because of a concern for safety. He said if a crosswalk is put in and pedestrians don’t use it enough, drivers ignore the signs.
“They start disregarding it or ignoring the signs and that increases the risk of a pedestrian actually getting hit at the crosswalk,” he said. “It could actually make it more dangerous for someone to cross there. So that’s why we have our warrants and rules in place to follow that because we’re just as concerned about the safety of pedestrians in the area as the city is.”
Dustin wrote in the <a href=”http://www.nibleycity.com/images/NibleyNewsOctober2014.pdf” target=”_blank”>city newsletter</a> that he would like more people to get people involved to pressure UDOT to stop traffic at the light. He said if UDOT doesn’t make an exception and stop traffic, the other option is to build a road through the 3200 South intersection and merge it with Mill Road. That would make it a four-way intersection and force UDOT to put in a crosswalk at the light. That option is something he said the city can afford, but would disrupt people’s lives.
“At that point you’re asking people to move and we’re not really happy with that solution either,” he said. “But I hope I made it very clear in the newsletter that if it comes to that then I would rather make some people uncomfortable or ask some people to move than risk a kid’s life at that intersection.”
Fristrup said UDOT is looking at doing another study in the spring when the weather is warmer and more pedestrians are out. Dustin’s goal is to have a safe way to cross by next summer, in time to help get students to the new high school being built across SR 165 in Millville.
“All they have to do is reprogram that light so that it stops traffic northbound from Hyrum when a kid comes out and pushes a button from the intersection,” Dustin said. “To me that seems easy, but if they’re not going to do it, one way or the other, bottom line is, there is going to be a crosswalk across 165.”