Park City, UT has a not so secret problem: traffic. Over the years, several aerial transportation projects have been proposed to help alleviate traffic in the city and surrounding areas. A few years ago, it was looking hopeful that 1 or more of these projects would come to fruition, but the odds aren’t looking so well anymore.
Ever since I can remember, traffic has gotten worse in Summit County, and not much has been done to solve the issue. The winter is especially bad with incoming traffic in the morning followed by the exodus of traffic after a day on the slopes.
The main culprit being discussed is S.R 248, which connects Interstate 40 to Park City via a narrow, single lane in each direction, road. With a hill on one side and an environmentally fragile creek on the other, the thought of expanding the road from its current footprint is usually a non-starter. A recent proposal included a gondola linking Richardson Flat park-and-ride and Quinn’s Junction to a location near a transit center in town or closer to Park City Mountain Resort.
“It needs to be decided whether we run aerial transportation out of Richardson Flat, and then if we do how do we get the park-and-ride at Quinn’s Junction attached to that? And then where do we bring those folks? Do they go to the transit center? Do they go to arts and culture? Do they go to the resort? We don’t know the answers to that right now.” – Bruce Erickson, Park City Planning Director
At recent Park City Planning Commission Meetings, vested parties in the aerial transportation proposals signaled they would no longer move forward. The parties cited high costs and the uncertainty of the routes and possible destinations as key reasons for not wanting to move forward.
As I mentioned earlier, there have been several other aerial transportation proposals in and around Park City over the years. One that I was personally hoping for was the Main Street to Silver Lake gondola, which would have enabled you to bypass Royal Street or Marsac Ave (aka the “mine road”) for direct access between Main Street Park City and Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley. Other proposals included gondolas between Main Street and Snow Park and Main Street and Empire, both connecting Deer Valley to downtown Park City, but not exactly solving ingress and egress to Park City.
One thing I know for certain, if nothing is done the issue is only going to get worse. I’m all for an aerial transportation solution, but what else can be done? I’ve personally heard other solutions, such as opening up the center lane that isn’t used currently on S.R 248 and making it 2 lanes in the morning for traffic coming into town and the switching it to 2 lanes in the afternoon for traffic leaving. That piqued my interest, but the road would need to be widened once you hit Park City High School. And of course, parking improvements would most likely need to come along with that, but not impossible. Another solution could be expanded park-and-ride in conjunction with bus service. How about surge pricing for vehicles entering Park City on weekends at certain hours? I don’t hold the answers, but am certainly interested to see what proposals are brought forth in the future.