Road improvements scheduled for 600 South aren't adequate to solve traffic hazards being created by development along the road, according to the head of a local trucking company.
Michael J. Norton, head of PST Inc. in Lindon, wants all development along the west end of the street halted until traffic studies are completed, road improvements are finished and signals or stop signs are installed at two intersections.Norton has joined forces with residents of the area and one other firm in calling for the moratorium, which is aimed at ABP Investments, a development group composed of the principals of WordPerfect Corp.
ABP Investments owns several large parcels of property next to 600 South and is developing an office and industrial park next to SoftCopy Inc. in a 100-acre redevelopment area created by Lindon.
The "Neighborhood Committee to Safeguard Lindon" claims Lindon city is catering to ABP Investments at the expense of traffic safety along the corridor. Norton said so far petitions requesting the city address their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
"There is nothing being done on a safety level to ensure the area is able to handle the enormous amounts of traffic that will be generated (by proposed development), let alone traffic that already exists," Norton said. "It (traffic problems) is having a direct and negative effect on small businesses in the area."
Both Lindon and Orem officials and representatives for SoftCopy and ABP say scheduled road improvements will address traffic concerns along 600 South. Lindon's 600 South is 1600 North in Orem. Lindon controls the north half of the section of road between 400 West (Orem's 1200 West) and Geneva Road, while Orem controls the south half.
The improvements to be completed this summer include leveling the road to remove blind spots, widening it and creating a median lane and acceleration/deceleration lanes to improve the road's safety.
"We're doing what we can to improve the situation," said E. Ray Brown, Lindon city recorder.
R. Duff Thompson, vice president and legal counsel at WordPerfect Corp., is also concerned about traffic flow in the area. But he said both Orem and Lindon are "working as fast as they can to make proper, reasoned judgments on traffic control issues that relate to that whole corridor."
In 1990 there were 20 traffic accidents on Lindon's side of the road between those two points and four on Orem's side. So far this year, there have been six accidents, all on Lindon's half of the road.
Many employees traveling to WordPerfect's headquarters in northeast Orem exit I-15 at 1600 North in Orem to get to work. The street is also used by workers traveling west to Geneva Steel.
In addition to PST, other companies located along 600 South include SoftCopy Inc., Bowen and Leavitt Insurance and Marco Transport. PST closed its shop and fuel facilities because of the hazard truckers faced in trying to cross from the freeway exit on the south side of 600 South to the frontage road on the north that leads to PST's Lindon headquarters.
The Utah Department of Transportation will conduct a traffic study in coming weeks to determine if a signal is warranted at the Lindon freeway exit and entrance. Lindon and Orem officials say traffic signals are not warranted at the intersection of 400 West and 600 South.
However, if businesses in the area are willing to pay for a signal at the intersection, Orem will install it, said Daryl Berlin, Orem city manager.
Norton said PST is willing to pay its share for a signal, provided costs are apportioned based on traffic volumes generated by each business in the area and "tax breaks promised WordPerfect."
But Norton said "WordPerfect doesn't want to pay theirs . . .. The company with the deepest pockets is the one with the tightest zipper over them."
Not so, retorted Thompson.
"We have been concerned enough about traffic in that area that we - ABP - paid for overtime services of a (police) officer to come on that site and monitor speed," Norton said. "That doesn't seem to me to be the act of someone who is not concerned about the traffic problem."
In fact, Norton was asked to contribute to the cost of the officer but declined, Thompson said.
"If a semaphore is warranted, we support putting one in and if it means we participate with everybody else that is participating, we'll participate," Thompson said.
Thompson said Norton's attempts to stop development in the area are really the result of a failed property negotiation between ABP and PST. The PST property is not included in the redevelopment area.
However, ABP Investments offered to buy PST's property at its appraised market value to include it in the park. Norton "wants 30 percent to 45 percent premium over that appraisal, which ABP Investments declined," Thompson said. "I think really what it boils down to is they'd like to sell and get out of there but we're not willing to pay their price."