Council discusses traffic-calming solutions for unsafe Bengal Boulevard crosswalkJan 31, 2023 02:37PM ● By Cassie Goff
The crosswalk along Bengal Boulevard adjacent to Butler Hills Drive has proven dangerous for student pedestrians getting to school during the winter months. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)
With less daylight hours during winter months, student pedestrians face a hazardous commute getting to school. Both Cottonwood Heights Mayor Mike Weichers and Brighton High School Principal Tom Sherwood have voiced concerns over student safety related to the crosswalk outside of the newly constructed high school building (2220 Bengal Blvd., bordering Butler Hills Drive).
“There’s a vulnerability in that crosswalk right now,” Weichers said. “So many kids are crossing when it’s completely dark and there were some scary incidents.”
“That crosswalk has been there since 1969—when Brighton High School was built,” Councilmember Scott Bracken said.
Weichers asked the Cottonwood Heights City Council to consider some transportation alternatives in order to emphasize the crosswalk to vehicle commuters. Since November, councilmembers have been discussing potential traffic-calming solutions such as: constructing a bulb-out or curb extension near the crosswalk; implementing additional traffic-calming on the west end of the Boulevard; designing a secondary school zone (with flashing yellow lights) adjacent to the existing school zone along Bengal Boulevard; establishing protected bike lanes; improving visibility of the merge down to one lane heading east from the Bengal Boulevard and Highland Drive intersection; designating slower vehicle speeds; and installing additional streetlights.
Cottonwood Heights Public Works Director Matt Shipp suggested working with Salt Lake County and Canyons School District to install temporary lighting.
“The school has offered to park a light tower on their property. We will need to turn the switch on in the morning,” Shipp said.
Bracken voiced his support. “RRFBs (Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon) work. They are probably one of the best things for letting me know when there is a pedestrian in the road.”
“I’m not comfortable with just lighting,” said Weichers, asking the council to continue considering permanent solutions.
Shipp mentioned one of the main visibility hazards for the school crosswalk. With the new parking lot layout of the high school, a bus turnout was constructed along Bengal Boulevard between the crosswalk and roundabout (2300 East).
“Two busses are often (during school hours) side by side. They will nose out trying to get back into traffic and will block views of students who are standing at the crosswalk. The student will push that button and start walking,” Shipp said.
Cottonwood Heights City staff have discussed this pedestrian hazard with Canyons School District in hopes of finding a better solution for the public school bus stop at Brighton High School.
In addition, Councilmember Doug Petersen would like to find traffic-calming solutions for eastbound traffic (traveling from the Bengal Boulevard and Highland Drive intersection).
“I do worry about traffic coming up that hill with the merge there. Sometimes people get in a little bit of a race to try to get out in front,” Petersen said.
Councilmember Shawn Newell agreed as he notices “people are flying down that road. I do like the idea of more visibility.”
Councilmember Ellen Birrell suggested evaluating the speed limits along Bengal Boulevard, asking what the potential would be to bring the speed limit down to 30 mph traveling eastbound up the hill toward Brighton High School.
“Slower speeds make an accident usually survivable,” Birrell said. “We really need to send the signal to commuters that they need to slow down.”
On Dec. 6, the city council made the decision to move forward with an ordinance to amend city code to help facilitate traffic-calming conversations, with majority consensus.
“If we need to change the ordinance than it needs to be based on something that might not be potentially arbitrary,” was the only concern voiced by Bracken.
Shipp reaffirmed the Public Works Departments plans to analyze traffic-calming throughout the entire city. He also mentioned his own concerns for pedestrian safety around the athletics facilities (2399 Bengal Blvd.) and Richard L. Guthrie Skatepark (2495 Bengal Blvd.).
On Dec. 13, Ordinance 390: Amending Code (Section 11.16.010) Regarding Speed Designations on Certain Roadways was unanimously passed by the Cottonwood Heights City Council.
In the meantime, temporary lights will be installed for the crosswalk on Bengal Boulevard. Mayor Weichers has also requested police presence, when possible, as well to increase visibility.
“I would love a car there, with lights on, to make sure anyone coming up from the east will slow down,” he said.
Cottonwood Heights has asked Brighton High School to remind students to use crosswalks correctly and safely while crossing and to be cautious while driving around crosswalks as well.