Update: Kearns STILL Under Construction


This is an update story from an original article. See the previous article here. 


6 months in and Kearns Boulevard is still littered with orange cones. However, there is actually a brighter light at the end of the tunnel. 


The most common question surrounding Kearns is: when will the construction be put to rest? A confident date from both Park City Senior Transportation Manager Julia Collins and the project’s superintendent, Chad Leyhe, is estimated to be November 21. 

This date is subject to change, as it has in the past, due to possible weather concerns or supply shortages. Nevertheless, the team from Stapp Construction has been working to efficiently complete the tunnel. 


In the next few weeks, the team is working on completing the finishing touches to ensure the safety and strength of the tunnel. 


The next step is to complete the backfilling, which is where the dirt that was first removed is now being reintegrated into those areas. Once this step is completed, the side of the construction on Park City High School is expected to look close to its original state. 


Some finishing safety touches, such as railings, are expected to be installed in the coming days. Many of the concluding details, such as landscaping, will be installed during the Spring of 2020. Collins stated that it is not expected to interfere with traffic flow. 


The past delays have been mostly caused by common construction aberrations. The most significant delay, according to Collins, was regarding the utility mislocation during the original planning. There have not been any more major utility issues. 


Another cause for the delay has been Park City’s weather patterns. In other words, the precipitation accumulated since last Winter has created difficulties while digging. Both over saturated and frozen ground have inhibited a speedy construction process.


The last major origin of delay was oversight of the time necessary to complete every step. While common in construction, this oversight has caused a significant amount of delay past the original completion date. 


“This particular design has expansion joints and you cannot build faster than what we did,” Layhe stated, “it has to be done in three pours, … the fastest we could do one pour was eight days … you do all the numbers and nine times eight is seventy-two, and there’s your days from June. 


“There’s no way to get around that.” Layhe added, “I don’t think anybody realized it [that it would take that long] until we got putting it together.”


One concern that has been raised by the students is the cost of the tunnel. The total budget for the tunnel has been raised since the original $3.8 million to a new number of $4 million. The rise in costs is due to the engineering fees and resolution costs due to construction delays. The cost of the tunnel itself has not risen from the previous $3.4 million. 


The funding for this entire project is from a voter-approved quarter-cent Summit County Transportation sales tax from 2016. 


The students at Park City High School have been highly affected by the construction. From occupying parking lots, disrupting regular traffic flow, to just being a slight eyesore, students, faculty, and staff from the school have been very involved with the construction.


Traffic delays have been a major concern for all motorists on Kearns Boulevard. 


Senior Audrey Buchanon said, “Even when accounting for the traffic on my way to school, I have nearly been late because it’s impossible to get into the parking lots. It affects all travel on Kearns, not just that of students.”


Even if the construction has been in effect since late May, traffic patterns have not yet regulated themselves to account for more delays. 


Senior Molly Gallagher has experienced, “tardies, near absences, late for a job interview after school, stress, waking up earlier to beat the traffic and then it not even working.”


Similar experiences have been shared with many students, including Junior Kellen Denkers who said that the construction, “makes me late, makes me angry, makes me nervous, makes me not want to go to school because it is so ugly.”


Despite the overwhelming 91.5% of Park City High Schools students not enjoying the construction and the 75.6% of students who have been late to school because of it, there is some acknowledgment of the long term benefits for all Parkites. 


“It’s an eyesore but I know that it is necessary in order to complete the project,” said Senior Jaspar Ruegemer. 


Despite the delays that have been experienced by the entire community, the team dedicated to this project has been working efficiently and relentlessly on timely completion. This project will help benefit the community as a whole. 


Collins said “We really appreciate the patience and the support from the students, the parents, and the school district to be able to construct this project,”