Park City puts parking overhaul into drive
Changes, potentially including paid parking at China Bride, could begin this spring
March 17, 2017
Park City is nearing a critical step in its plan to overhaul parking in the Historic District.
City Hall recently began seeking a contractor through an RFP process to implement a number of recommendations outlined in an extensive study performed in 2015 and 2016 that sought solutions to the parking problems that have plagued the area around Main Street for years. The deadline for firms to submit proposals was scheduled for Friday, and Kenzie Coulson, the city's parking and fleet administrative supervisor, said officials will work quickly to make a selection and begin work as soon as possible.
The contractor will be tasked with drastically changing how the city manages its existing parking infrastructure in the Historic District. Coulson said the goal of the work, which is slated to begin this spring but does not have an explicit timeline, is to use data to make parking an easier experience. It will include elements like installing wayfinding signage to better direct drivers to parking and new software to manage citations and mobile payment options. There will also be technology providing real-time parking information on electronic signs throughout the area and available on a mobile app drivers can access before they journey to Main Street.
"Perhaps when Main Street is full, those signs will help guests and residents make other choices to go to alternate parking locations if the demand warrants that," Coulson said.
Demand-based paid parking to help reduce congestion at peak times could also be implemented in areas like China Bridge, a large parking structure that is currently free throughout the year, apart from special events such as the Sundance Film Festival. Coulson said that, under such a scenario, China Bridge would remain free during slow times, but drivers would be charged when the Historic District gets busy.
But charging for parking at China Bridge carries the risk of displacing employees who rely on it as one of the few places to park for free for several hours near Main Street. Coulson said the city would implement a number of initiatives to offset that inconvenience. The city intends to spend much of April on community-outreach efforts aimed at finding solutions that work for employees.
"One of the goals of this project is to ensure we're creating incentives and good opportunity for the employees of Main Street," she said. "… For example, there will be some really great opportunities for carpooling lots and guaranteed ride-home programs so that no one is left stranded if, for example, an employee takes the bus to Main Street and has to work late or doesn't have a viable way home."
Regardless, some workers in the Historic District remain apprehensive about what a paid-parking system at China Bridge may mean for them. Bruce Moulton, who works at No Name Saloon on Main Street, said he worries that he'd end up paying to park five days a week. Carpooling or taking public transport is rarely an option for him because, as the only driver in his family, he must be able to leave Main Street quickly to drive family members to and from work.
"It's bad enough during Sundance when they charge $25 a day," said Moulton, who lives in Jeremy Ranch. "We don't get any extra for that. Our employers don't pay us for parking. It's just kind of sad that the city has to go that route. I don't agree with it."
Creighton Bingley, owner of the clothing shop Backscratcher Tees, said he is concerned that having to pay for parking at China Bridge would dissuade some customers from coming to Main Street.
"I don't think it's going to help anything," he said. "(People) aren't going to be happy about having to pay extra or getting ticketed if they do run a little long."
Coulson, however, said the goal of the new parking system is to have the opposite effect. Drivers will have more information about what parking is available and where, making available spaces easier to access and reducing congestion from people circling for parking.
"We want to make parking as easy as possible," she said, adding that many people in town are eager for the plan to be implemented. "… Park City has continued to grow and the pressure is out there. We're actively working toward solutions."