Members of a neighborhood divided came together Tuesday night to plead their cases before the Orem City Council.
At issue was a plan to continue Main Street over a duck pond at about 1850 North in an attempt to reduce traffic near Northridge Elementary School. Up to 2,600 cars use a nearby street, 50 East, during peak hours, and the council hopes to divert some of that traffic to Main.In a 6-1 vote, council members approved the $120,000 bridge after listening to two hours of emotional debate by 19 of the approximately 120 residents who attended the hearing.
"We moved into the area because of the peace and seclusion," Ace Sorensen, area resident, said. "Because there were so many alternative streets, we did not expect Main to go through.
"We are all concerned about the safety of the 1,100 students at Northridge, and if Main is put through, it may reduce some of the local traffic. But most of the problem is caused by parents dropping their children off at school, and that will not change with the bridge.
"If safety is your real concern, you should try to alleviate the problem on 50 East, not add a new problem on Main."
Sorensen proposed a foot bridge over the Murdock Canal. The canal, several blocks east of Main and the pond, blocks children who live east of it from easily walking to school. Sorensen said these children's parents are the ones creating traffic problems by driving their children. A foot bridge would allow eastside children to walk to school, easing car traffic to the school, he said.
Albert Winkler, an area resident, said he believed the auto bridge would increase safety. "And the people living near the school should have known Main would eventually became a major thoroughfare. The name `Main' is a bit of a giveaway."
Sharon Hinckley, a resident who has worked as an emergency medical technician, said the bridge is needed to allow paramedics faster access to residents north of the pond.
"If someone in the north area needs emergency help while school is starting or letting out, and 50 East is blocked, not having another through street nearby could cost someone his life.
"Blocking a street to keep an area peaceful and secluded is not worth someone's life."
But Jim Utley, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper, said the delay would only be 10 seconds for officers who knew the area.
Many worried turning Main into a through street would increase traffic speeds.
"You ought to call it the race track bridge," Camilla Quinn said. "Your concern seems to be less for the citizens of Orem and more for the 11th commandment - to move ahead with the master plan.
"To condemn and destroy the beautiful vista (the pond and private wildlife refuge) would not solve problems. These are our streets, not yours (council members'). We are trying to protect our children, not yours. Your plan, to quote George Bush, is deep doodoo. When the first child dies because of the increased traffic on Main, it will be your political Waterloo."
Eris Waymire, owner of the duck pond and refuge, was concerned her hard work would be destroyed.
Waymire said she has lived on the land for about 13 years, "since before there was a Main." Besides ducks, her pond and land house swans, peacocks and several endangered species of birds.
In approving the bridge, council members said they would make every effort to "maintain the integrity of the pond." They will also study other suggestions to ease traffic to the area, they said.
City Attorney Paul Johnson said Waymire's property could be condemned to free it for the project, but the city would try to resolve the problem other ways first. "Condemnation is a last resort," he said.