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UDOT stresses importance of Big Cottonwood crosswalk despite traffic issues

Posted at 8:34 PM, Jan 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 00:22:17-05

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah — To deal with an increase in pedestrian traffic at the Cardiff area in Big Cottonwood Canyon, the Utah Department of Transportation built a crosswalk across the highway. Some are saying that although it is helping with safety, the crosswalk is creating backups and slowing down traffic in the canyon.

"This is a very popular trailhead and we started looking at different ways that we could help people cross the highway safely," said Jake Brown, a UDOT roadway operations manager for the Cottonwood Canyons.

UDOT completed the crossing, located near the North Fork trailheads parking lot, late last summer.

"People had no safe way to cross the road. They had to kind of take their life into their own hands as they crossed," Brown added.

He said the project was something UDOT was looking into for a couple of years, especially as the Cardiff area has become more popular with those looking to hike, snowshoe and sled.

Marcus Bellamy had a close call crossing the highway before the crosswalk was installed.

"I almost got hit here once," Bellamy said. "I'm a photographer [and] I was doing a photoshoot, walking across the road kind of looking at a few photos, and next thing I know a car blows past me and almost hits me."

Bellamy and his wife, Jessica Corral, spend a lot of time hiking and sledding in Big Cottonwood Canyon with their kids and welcome the addition of the crosswalk.

"This is important that now it's there because we feel safer crossing," Corral said. "We don't have to run and hope that a car doesn't blow through, and so we really like that this is there."

"You're getting everybody out of the car, the kids are trying to run across the road, and with having the added safety of the stop there it really puts the assurance there for sure," Bellamy added.

But others say the crosswalk has added to the already congested traffic up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Many took to Twitter to express their frustrations. One user said it added 45 minutes to their drive, and another posted a photo on Saturday of backed-up cars, waiting for people to cross the road.

"With movie theaters and different things shut down, we have a lot more people coming outdoors and using the trailheads and using the great outdoors to recreate," Brown said.

He added that the crossing was the best response to the increase in foot traffic in the canyon and that it keeps both drivers and pedestrians safe.

"We understand that there are going to be traffic delays due to this. We took that into account," He said. "But these are people that would be crossing anyway, but they would be doing it without a light."