Utah’s Department of Transportation said a runaway truck system will be built in Garden City as soon as weather allows next spring, while increased signage and a temporary brake check at the scenic overlook will be in place by early next week.
“We have received funding to begin work on a runaway truck arresting system,” said UDOT spokesman Vic Saunders. “The challenge is going to be acquiring right of way and getting the design complete — that process will probably take us through the winter. We hope to begin work on that as early as we can next spring.”
That construction will also include a permanent brake check area at a site yet to be determined, Saunders said.
Both UDOT and the Utah Highway Patrol jumped into action after two trucks lost their brakes and ran a stop sign at the bottom of the hill where U.S. Highway 89 and State Road 30 come together in a T-intersection with crosswalks that are frequently filled with pedestrians during the summer.
UDOT first started looking at the truck-arresting system used near Jackson, Wyoming, after a semi with no brakes attempted to make a right-hand turn at this three-way intersection in Garden City last October.
The driver, who died in the crash, slammed into Pugstones Sporting, completely destroying the store.
On Aug. 15, another driver approached that same intersection without brakes. According to the Utah Highway Patrol, the Alabama truck driver drove right through the old Pugstone property and crashed into the bank of storage sheds about 300 feet east of the intersection.
UDOT said then that they were considering the truck arresting system, but no decisions had been made and there was no way of telling what kind of timetable might be involved.
Five days later though, a dump truck that was carrying asphalt also ran through the intersection and ran into a separate set of storage bays within the same set of storage units.
Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Perry said at this point, he knows the dump truck was overweight, but full inspection reports on the two trucks involved in the last two incidents are not complete yet so he is not able to say if there were any additional mechanical issues at hand in either situation.
Rather than waiting, though, Perry said UHP truck inspectors have increased their presence in Logan Canyon this week, where they have been busy this week stopping commercial vehicles and conducting inspections before they begin the descent into Garden City.
They did that after the first crash, although not quite as extensively as now, and they will continue to do so for an undetermined period of time, Perry said.
“We’re looking for all the possibilities to make sure we’re educating and informing people,” Perry said. “We may find from this experience that we need to put a sign at the mouth of Logan Canyon … maybe we even get it put on the maps that way so that when they use Google Maps they realize that this route is marked as a mountain road, not just a two-lane highway that is the shortest distance from point A to point B.”
As these safety measures are put into place, Perry said there are also discussions about lowering the truck speeds on the Rich County side of the summit, but that is a decision that has to be made with care.
“The trick is, you have got to figure out a truck speed that is slow enough to keep something bad from happening but on the other hand, not so slow that it causes the public to try and get around them,” he said.
In the meantime, Perry said the brake check will give drivers a place to stop and check their brakes before they crest the hill.