5600 West widening: a worthwhile hassle
West Jordan City plans to improve 5600 West between 7800 South and 8600 South. Contact 5600WCONSTRUCTION@WJORDAN.COM for further information. (West Jordan City/UDOT)
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By Natalie Conforto | firstname.lastname@example.org
A simple T-intersection in the Oaks neighborhood in West Jordan has been a source of dread, annoyance, and frustration for more than a decade.
Local drivers know that if they have to be at 8200 South and 5600 West any time during the morning or afternoon school rush or evening work rush, they’re going to be waiting. Many opt to take the long way around to avoid the intersection.
When heavy construction equipment arrived at the site in February of this year, residents were jubilant. Even though road construction will cause longer wait times at the intersection for now, people who live in the area are willing to deal with the temporary hassle.
“I don't mind the construction on 5600 West,” said Anne Forester, who lives in the area. “I think having a light will make that area safer. With so much growth happening out here, we need to keep up by expanding roads and accommodating for more traffic.”
Bearing the brunt of the road-widening project are the crossing guards, who deal with impatient drivers at 8200 South and 5600 West several times each day to assist children attending West Hills Middle, Copper Hills High, Fox Hollow Elementary, Hayden Peak Elementary and Ascent Academy.
Cindy Jacobsen, who supervises the 82 crossing guards in West Jordan, commented on how difficult it has been for the school kids and the crossing guards to maneuver around the construction vehicles that have been obstructing their usual path. She praised her guards for going above and beyond to keep the kids safe through this transition, even on icy, snowy and muddy days.
“My guards are awesome,” Jacobsen said. “They have been walking the kids up and around the equipment. You need to keep in mind that they’ve got children all over the place there.”
Amber Ford, one of the orange-clad heroes at this intersection welcomes the construction project.
“I agree with the decision to widen the road and add a light,” she said. “Every morning and afternoon, while I am working, there is heavy traffic. Also, the traffic along 5600 West has continued to increase since the road was opened up to the north. I think a wider road, along with a light, would help to alleviate these problems.”
However, some still have misgivings about the construction. Many residents attended UDOT’s public open house on Feb. 23 at West Hills Elementary to find out more about the proposed changes and voice their concerns.
Some worried about the easement, which will encroach onto the back park strip areas of east-facing properties on the east side of 5600 West. Any improvements to the park strip made by residents will be lost. UDOT representatives explained that this was necessary in order to widen the road to the required five lanes.
Others asked if there will still be crossing guards at the intersection now that a signal light will be directing traffic. UDOT officials did not know the answer, as the West Jordan Police Department manages the crossing guards.
Jacobsen trusts that the crossing guards will stay at the intersection, even with the signal light.
“There are no intentions of removing the crossing guards,” Jacobsen said.
If residents ask for a new guard post, she appeals to her lieutenant, who in turn appeals to the police chief for the final decision to increase the budget for additional guards. But, since guards are already in place at 8200 South and 5600 West, the budget won’t be affected if they remain there.
“I believe that they’re desperately needed there just because of the traffic,” Jacobsen said. “It’s much better to have the guard there to help control some of that and to keep the kids at bay.”
Jacobsen cited other “controlled crossings” in West Jordan that have crossing guards along with signal lights, including 7000 South and 3200 West. Because the city already supports controlled crossings, she is confident that the new signal light will also become a controlled crossings.
A wider road can lead to faster traffic, and more danger to pedestrians. Some parents are still apprehensive about their children walking across a five-lane street—even with a crossing guard.
Nicole Barnett, who drives through this intersection every school day with her children, is both excited and wary about the new road.
“As a driver, it will be so much easier to turn left (north) onto 56th West, but I still won’t have my kids cross the street,” she said.
Barnett will continue to drive her kids to and from school, and they will all soon enjoy a much smoother ride.