The road winding through a luxury housing development to the state's Olympic sports park was built even though it was too steep to meet state or local standards.
The use of $2 million in federal mineral lease royalties and other mining revenues for the 1.9-mile road is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general's office.Investigators from the office are attempting to determine whether intentionally routing the road through the housing development is a fraudulent use of federal funds, sources have told the Deseret News.
The road connecting U-224 to the Utah Winter Sports Park through the lots of Cedar Draw Estates of Sun Peak was built in exchange for the 300 acres of land where the park is located.
The $30 million sports park, which has ski jumps and a planned bobsled and luge run, is the largest Utah Sports Authority project. The Sports Authority oversees the state's $59 million Olympic facility budget.
It was Summit County that was granted funds for the road by the state's Permanent Community Impact Fund Board, which distributes the state's share of federal mineral lease royalties and other mining revenues.
But the road belongs to neither Summit County nor the Utah Department of Transportation. Officials from both Summit County and UDOT said the road was too steep to meet their standards.
Doyle Pergande, the principal engineer who designed the road, said it reaches a 10 percent grade in two spots. Summit County and UDOT allow no more than an 8 percent grade, which the rest of the road does not exceed.
The road is apparently operated by the state Division of Facilities and Construction Management, which also runs the sports park.
Division director Neal Stowe said through his secretary only that the road is a state road.
Summit County Engineer Derrick Radke said Monday that the county would not have permitted the road to be built. Typically, roads that serve housing developments beyond city limits are maintained by the county.
"It's too steep for our standards," Radke said. "If it had been a developer building that road for a subdivision, it never would have been allowed."
UDOT Executive Director Craig
Zwick said his agency had been approached by the Division of Facilities and Construction Management to take over the road during theplanning stages but declined for the same reason as Summit County did.
"They wanted (the road) in the state system, but it did not meet our standards," Zwick said, citing the steep grade. "The bottom line is there is no involvement, funding or otherwise, by UDOT."
Neither Radke nor Zwick raised concerns about the safety of the road, but they did describe some of its problems. Radke said he has seen settling on parts of the road that may have been caused by poor soil conditions.
And Zwick said the road's steep grade and numerous switchbacks create maintenance difficulties. He said UDOT does have a contract to plow the road during the winter.
Rex Loker, a Division of Facilities Construction and Management project coordinator over the Olympic facilities, said the road was designed before the 36 custom housing lots were sited.
The terms of the deal to build the road in exchange for land between the Sports Authority and Summit Ranch Joint Venture, the developer of the Sun Peak project, are contained in an inch-thick agreement.
Although Linda Clifford, a project manager for the California-based developer, said last week that the road was not built as a condition for the land donation, the agreement states otherwise.
According to the agreement, Summit Ranch Joint Venture "acknowledges that it is aware that the Sports Authority intends to make commitments and contracts with regard to the development of the Park based upon the commitment or promise of SR (Summit Ranch) to donate the property. . . ."
The agreement goes on to spell out those commitments and contracts, including that the Sports Authority is responsible for spending $1.9 million to build a primary access road following an attached map.
Summit Ranch Joint Venture will design the road, according to the agreement, and the Sports Authority will have the "right of reasonable review and approval."