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Cottonwood Heights Journal

City council evaluates traffic study on Fort Union Boulevard

May 09, 2024 02:11PM ● By Cassie Goff

On an average weekday, there can be up to 87,656 daily vehicles along Fort Union Boulevard. (Avenue Consultants/Fort Union Boulevard Speed Study Report)

Fort Union Boulevard continues to be one of the busiest roads within the City of Cottonwood Heights. The City Council, Public Works staff and CHPD (Cottonwood Heights Police Department) officers wanted to gather a better understanding of the traffic patterns along the boulevard with further credible detail. They asked the Public Works Department to partner with a consultant to run a traffic study. 

Ultimately, the city council wanted to know if the posted speed limit was adequate for the entire boulevard, or if they needed to consider lowering the speed limit in certain segments of Fort Union. The data from the traffic study would help the city’s planning staff, Public Works members, and officers plan for traffic patterns in the future as well. 

Avenue Consultants placed pneumatic tubes along five areas of Fort Union Boulevard in order to study the traffic patterns. They collected over 300,000 points of data including speeds, car types, daily traffic volumes, times and gap data. 

After interrupting this data, Avenue Consultants was able to report on the average daily usage of the boulevard, average speed profiles throughout different segments of Fort Union, and design elements of the road. They researched the last five years of traffic data in the area as well. 

On an average weekday, there can be up to 87,656 daily vehicles along Fort Union Boulevard (based on average daily vehicle data within five segments of road, that number may account for some repeated vehicle traveling along the boulevard east-to-west). The segment with the least amount of daily vehicles is from 2700 East to 3000 East, with 9,880 average daily vehicles. The most populated segment of the boulevard is between 1300 East and 1700 East with 24,508 reported average daily vehicles.

Fort Union Boulevard is classified as an Urban Core Arterial 5-Land roadway. Avenue Consultants determined that Fort Union Boulevard does indeed align with UDOT’s Access Category 5 roadway classification. The speed recommendation from UDOT for such a road is between 35 and 45 mph. From 1300 East to 3000 East, the speed limit posted along Fort Union Boulevard is 40 mph.

Vehicles tend to travel the fastest between 2300 East and 3000 East, averaging 45 mph. While vehicles traveling through Highland Drive to 2300 East tend to travel 39 mph, on average. Vehicles travel at 42 and 43 mph along the remaining segments of the boulevard, on average. 

“Your speed limit is pretty well set if vehicles are traveling 5 miles above or 5 miles below the posted speed limit,” said Public Works Director Matt Shipp. “Eighty-five percentile falls within the standard of not needing to adjust the speed limit.” 

There have been 392 crashes on Fort Union Boulevard since 2019. Looking at the history of the roadway in the most recent five-year period, the highest number of crashes occurred in 2022 with 106 crashes. 2023 reported the lowest number of crashes with 19.  

“Fifteen crashes were speed related, with none of those crashes being severe,” concluded Avenue Consultants in their Speed Study Report.  

Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo wasn’t surprised by this data and further explained that “speed isn’t necessarily the issue…it’s all the other components around it.” 

Five out of seven severe accidents involved impaired driving. Russo reminded the council that Utah is one of the leading states for DUIs in the nation. 

Avenue Consultants ultimately recommended not to alter speed limits along Fort Union Boulevard. “As the posted speed limit fits within an acceptable range based on the current roadway characteristics, no speed management strategies are recommended to realign the character of the roadway with a desired speed.”  

“If we want to affect the speed limit, we need to look at traffic-calming redesigns and adding some features that would slow that traffic down,” Shipp said. 

Avenue Consultants recommended a combination of proactive speed management measures to assist in aligning the desired speed with the desired character in the future. Potential traffic-calming features might include improved signage, road design modifications, increased enforcement and traffic monitoring. They also recommended increasing awareness campaigns to the public to highlight the importance of adhering to speed limits. 

To view previous City Journals coverage, visit the Cottonwood Heights City Journals website and search for “Fort Union” (

To view the Fort Union Area Master Plan, visit the Cottonwood Heights City website, navigate to “City Services” and click on the “Adopted and Special Plans” label. ( λ