A traffic cop's nightmare expected at the Widow Maker motorcycle competition Sunday could have been avoided had Draper cooperated with Utah County in preparing for the event, Sheriff Dave Bateman says.
He said the sheriff's department has had no cooperation from Draper city officials in preparing to handle the 12,000 people expected at the event."My major bone of contention . . . is that even after making an issue of the lack of cooperation last year, there just wasn't any improvement this year," Bateman told Utah County commissioners Wednesday. "It's really too late to do anything about it now."
He likened the annual hill climb near the Point of the Mountain to a party where the host asks his guests to park their cars in adjacent yards and invites partygoers to use his neighbors' bathrooms.
"That's essentially the situation we've experienced," Bateman said. "And it's become more acute as time has gone on. As a consequence, it's turned into a real fiasco for us."
To avoid problems with rowdy motorists last year, he said, Draper routed traffic south along a frontage road to the I-15 northbound entrance at U-92 in Utah County. Bateman said he expects Draper police officers to do the same Sunday.
Following last year's Widow Maker, he said, deputies arrested about 30 people for driving under the influence of alcohol and 100 for other alcohol-related offenses.
"They (Draper officials) don't want people coming through their city in the condition they're in," Bateman said.
Not so, said Draper City Administrator Andrew Hatton-Ward and Police Chief Wayne Riley, who called last year's Widow Maker "a mellow, well-controlled" event."
"Our intent is to turn them north along the frontage road and put them on the freeway at 14600 South," Hatton-Ward said.
But, he said, the motorcycle club sponsoring the event has had problems getting permission for patrons to cross sections of private property in Salt Lake County to gain access to the frontage road and head north.
"The city has no control over the access they're trying to get," he said.
Riley said the city prefers that traffic come north rather than head south into Utah County.
"We have better control that way," he said. Riley said he plans to prevent northbound traffic from heading into Utah County on Sunday and lays blame for last year's rerouting on Utah County.
"That was their own doing," he said.
But according to Utah County Sheriff Lt. David Lamph, Draper forced traffic south after closing northbound routes to all but emergency vehicles.
Bateman said the sheriff's department plans to use signs and officers to limit traffic southbound on the frontage road to Utah County residents only. Because I-15 is under construction between the Point of the Mountain and Lehi, motorists rerouted south will be unable to enter the northbound freeway entrance at U-92 and will have to cross under I-15 and then head north on the frontage road west of the freeway.
Capt. Owen Quarnberg said he had been told initially that Draper planned to route all traffic south through Utah County.
"As far as I'm concerned, those guys are being less than honest," said Quarnberg. He said he has tried fruitlessly for a month to coordinate planning with Draper City.
"Basically, they've been missing each other," Hatton-Ward said. "It's not not that anybody was avoiding anybody."
As of Wednesday, Bateman said, the sheriff's department was planning to use as many officers as possible for traffic control. He also offered a suggestion to those interested in seeing the Widow Maker competition:
Stay home and watch it on television.