Neighborhood mobilizes to make Pioneer Crossing intersections safer

Nicole Kunze | Lehi Free Press

8
5499

Pioneer Crossing, a five-lane road connecting Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain and Lehi with I-15, was completed in 2010. In less than ten years there have been almost 1000 accidents, including a few fatalities, reported on Pioneer Crossing. Residents near the major intersections along Pioneer Crossing have heard the squealing tires and the unmistakable sound of crunching metal through their back windows hundreds of times over the last eight years and they always fear it’s someone in their family or one of their friends hurt in an accident. On Monday, January 7, dozens of neighbors and friends met with city and state leaders, a UDOT representative, and a police officer to figure out how to make Pioneer Crossing safer.

“We recognize that human error is involved in all traffic accidents, it’s not necessarily the road’s fault or the light’s fault. These accidents have been happening a lot, though, and we want to know, as citizens, what we can do,” said Erin Shepherd, who hosted the meeting along with her husband Mike Shepherd.

Lehi City Council Member Johnny Revill and Sergeant Levi Lewis from the Lehi Police Department shared statistics on the number of accidents by year on Pioneer Crossing. While most of the traffic accidents happen at the 850 East intersection, accidents at the 2300 West intersection are much more violent because of the speeds cars are traveling.

“As soon as Pioneer Crossing opened up we were patrolling it for speeding all the time,” said Sergeant Lewis. “A lot of citizens complained because there were so many citations issued for speed. If you look at the data, though, there were much fewer accidents in the first two years.” Accidents on Pioneer Crossing jumped from 75 in 2012 to 130 in 2013, which is when the speed limit was raised from 45 miles per hour to 50 miles per hour. In 2017 there were 182 traffic accidents on Pioneer Crossing and in 2018 there were 180. The increase in the number of accidents on Pioneer Crossing from 2013 to 2018 is 38%.

“The last ten violent crashes near 2300 West were all drivers driving east through Lehi from Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs. They’re anticipating the light at 2300 West being green, so they’re speeding and they’re looking at their phones,” explained Sergeant Lewis. There are no traffic lights on Pioneer Crossing between Redwood Road in Eagle Mountain and 2300 West in Lehi, a distance of over two miles.

Another issue Lehi City and the Lehi Police Department face at the intersection of 2300 West and Pioneer Crossing is that the entire intersection is technically in Saratoga Springs. “There was a debate between Saratoga Springs and Lehi about who should be responding to these accidents. Saratoga Springs argued that we should find out when the accident happens where the driver is coming from before anyone responds to it,” said Revill. “It just doesn’t work that way,” added Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson.

If a driver is cited by Lehi Police on or west of 2300 West (formerly Old Saratoga Road), they go to court in Saratoga Springs, which causes even more confusion and leads to some dangerous drivers going unpunished.

During the neighborhood meeting, Geoff Dupaix from the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) took extensive notes and made suggestions. Dupaix shared the preliminary results of a recent traffic study of Pioneer Crossing, which indicated that advance warning signals are needed at the major intersections of 2300 West and 1700 West now and will be needed at other intersections in the near future. (Advance warning signals are flashing lights that alert drivers of upcoming yellow and red traffic lights.) Dupaix also agreed with residents at the meeting that there should be a protected left turn signal to get into their neighborhoods off Pioneer Crossing instead of a blinking yellow arrow.

The consensus among those who attended the neighborhood meeting was that lowering the speed limit on Pioneer Crossing will, in turn, lower the number of violent accidents. “We had to fight to get any traffic lights at all on Pioneer Crossing,” said Mayor Johnson. “The speed limit went up because of a protest from Saratoga Springs to UDOT. They thought they were being targeted. I think it’s time to get the speed limit lowered again.”

When Lehi resident Joe Johnson asked how citizens can help, Sergeant Lewis responded, “The population growth in Lehi has meant that we have had to put traffic enforcement on the back burner because we’re always responding to calls. We’re going to come up with some new campaigns to catch distracted and speeding drivers. If you see something, call us. Be a good witness. Even if you don’t get a license plate number, call us and give us as much information as you can, then follow up instead of dropping it when it goes to court.”

The residents were also encouraged by Geoff Dupaix to continue emailing UDOT and having productive discussions. Joe Johnson reminded his neighbors that the improvements like advance warning signals, more signage, more police officers to patrol, and adding traffic lights don’t come for free, that citizens need to vote in such a way to give Lehi money for important projects like improving safety on Pioneer Crossing.

8 COMMENTS

  1. It is possible to also request that Air Brakes not be used by the big rigs? I’ll admit that I don’t know if that’s even possible, but it would sure be nice.

    Amen to all recommendations. I would love to see more patrols, flashing signs before intersections and the speed lowered. I understand it costs…worth it in my eyes. I live very close to Pioneer and I’m even hesitant to cross the road (in a car or as a pedestrian.) Seen too many accidents, too many vehicles go well beyond the speed limit, and too many vehicles run red lights.

  2. Ginny how do you expect big rigs to stop? That’s like asking you to stop using your brake in your mini van.

    45 MPH was ridiculous.
    I would suggest that the increase in accident rates can be attributed more to the increased volume of traffic then to the speed limit. And to Pioneer Crossing being one of the most poorly engineered roads ever. Twisting and turning, with super sharp curves. Again it’s ridiculous.
    From day one it was obvious that it wasn’t going to handle the volume of traffic thats needs to traverse Lehi, to get to the Freeway.
    Instead of being built straight and wide enough to accommodate the future load that would be needed. Lehi and UDOT didn’t plan and preserve a corridor that would handle the future.
    Lehi didn’t want the road, it wasn’t there problem. They didn’t want another major road spliting up there city (which at time this area was mositly fields). Now they are complaining about the accidentents and that it’s so scary to cross.
    If Lehi and UDOT would have preserved an appropriate corridor 15 years ago it would have only impacted a few families and farmers.
    To corrifix it now is going to take building flyovers, like on Bangeter, take out many families homes and cost a fortune.

  3. I drive that road daily and while many are speeding, the biggest problem I have is the lack of sight. Especially at 1700 W and 2300 W. We can’t see cross traffic from either the city streets or Pioneer Crossing because of the locations and height of the sound walls too close to the intersections.

    I know it’s not cost effective to lower/remove small sections but that’s my biggest problem in those areas. Look into that as another reason for the accidents.

    • In the accidents on 2300 West that I have witnessed, if those sound barriers were reduced in height at all, the cars would have plowed into children and the house that sits right behind it. The barriers aren’t there just for sound protection, but to also protect the very homes that are right behind them.

  4. While taking my daughter to practice in Lehi at 5:30 one evening, I witnessed 3 people who ran blatant red lights. One was a left turn! He turned right onto incoming traffic in front of me and was not previously in the intersection waiting to turn left. Everyone just stalled in the intersection to let him through. That offense was on 2300 West, one on 500 West, and the other on Center Street. All separate locations. The one turning left was turning left and all who ran the red lights were traveling West bound. That tells me that these are people who are likely impatient, distracted, and likely going home. If they keep doing this, they may not ever get there to greet their loved ones. Please SLOW down, obey traffic laws, and stop running red lights. I do believe we need more police presence on this road as well, but everyone needs to slow down, and be alert while driving. I do feel like the yellow flashing lights would help motorists of oncoming red lights as proposed, but mostly what I see while driving are people just trying to get ahead of the next light while speeding down the road.

  5. I used to work at Dry Creek Elementary and learned to avoid Pioneer Crossing as much as possible. I witnessed several violent accidents at the 1100 West intersection and was almost hit several time going north to south on 1100 crossing Pioneer. I think these are great suggestions, but rushed, distracted, and impatient people need to stop running red lights. Yellow doesn’t mean speed up. Better late than not reaching your destination.

  6. I’m so glad that we moved away from pioneer crossing. There were several occasions, almost every day after work that someone would almost t-bone me at the 500 West & pioneer intersection. People are going 60-80mph and running RED lights constantly. That’s the problem. People don’t care enough, and are in too big of a hurry to really think about their driving habits. I also agree that distracted friving is a big part in blame, too.

  7. Kevin – I think Ginny is talking about Engine Brakes, also known as Jake Brakes. They are loud. Trucks don’t have to use them to stop – they can use their normal brakes. Highland City doesn’t allow Engine Brakes in their city limits. I lived on Pioneer Crossing and often wondered why Lehi City allowed them. You can really hear them at night when it’s quiet.

LEAVE A REPLY