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MIDWAY — Midway is feeling growing pains this summer. Right now, the biggest pain for some residents in the small Wasatch County city is the installation of the city's first traffic light.
Work on the light started Monday at the intersection of Main Street and Center Street.
A business owner and other neighbors called it a bad idea, and said they were caught by surprise and kept out of the process by the city. But, the city and the Utah Department of Transportation said it's necessary for safety and traffic flow in the growing city.
"It was like a dream," said Lori Stone, who grew up in Midway. "We knew everybody in town."
As a mom, she built her life here.
"I wanted them to have the same experience that you don't get in a bigger city," Stone said.
A handful of neighbors gathered at the intersection Tuesday to cite the problems they've witnessed. To them, the light represents more than a traffic signal.
"It's the beginning of a lot more residents coming," Stone said. "We like people. But we're just not prepared for that growth."
Tuesday, the intersection was a two-way stop. Some residents believe a four-way stop could do the job in this city of nearly 5,000 residents. Others liked the idea of a round-about. But, the Utah Department of Transportation ruled out that option.
"Truthfully, it doesn't get that busy except for a few times a day," said Holly Bodily, who moved to Midway five years ago. She regularly visited the Swiss-themed community as a child and couldn't wait to move back as an adult for the slow-paced, healthy lifestyle.
"We came up here for the clean air," she said, "and, to get away from a lot of the traffic and pollution."
Bodily fears more of that with cars idling at the light.
The residents who oppose the light said they were caught off guard when workers started spraying the street with bright paint Monday to mark the work zone, even encroaching on one business. They did not think the project was starting so soon, and thought they had a year to present their concerns to UDOT and talk about other options.
"Why weren't we notified? Why weren't businesses notified?" asked Stone.
"Safety is the biggest concern," said UDOT spokesman John Gleason. "We've been working closely with the city leaders. They want to make sure they are planning for the future."
City leaders asked UDOT to help design the intersection, Gleason said. A UDOT traffic study from the summer of 2015 showed the volume of traffic — 6,000 cars in an average day — warrants a traffic signal based on state criteria.
According to the study, about 1,000 cars move through the intersection in all directions during the traffic peaks in the morning and evening. Cars turning left onto Main Street slow traffic the most. Among 10 crashes between 2010 and 2014, seven were deemed correctable by a turn signal. But the crash data alone did not warrant a traffic signal.
"A traffic signal is the best solution with the least amount of impact," said Gleason. "It's also the safest solution."
The mayor of Midway said the light will improve safety and traffic flow in the growing community. But residents feel left out of the process.
"Most of the community probably has no idea that this is even happening, yet," said Bodily. "I got a text this morning saying, 'What's going on down there?'"
UDOT said there are plans for another light farther east on Main Street, and this construction is moving along. UDOT agreed with the city to have the signal installed by the time Swiss Days begins the first weekend in September.