October 18, 2008
On Tuesday afternoon it took me 25 minutes to drive the half mile from Bear Hollow Drive to Kimball Junction. Unusual for this time of year but quite common in the winter. It gave me time to observe the other traffic and think about recent proposed "solutions" to the traffic flow on 248 and at Kimball Junction.
The underlying problem many would call it a blessing is that so many people want to come into Park City that they overwhelm the capacity of the traffic system. Increasing the capacity of the roads is short sighted. The traffic will then just overwhelm the intersections or parking capacity.
My unscientific traffic survey suggests that more than half the vehicles are pickup trucks or large SUVs and 80% or so of them carry just the driver.
The solution, I would suggest, is to put a heavy emphasis on increasing the number of passengers per vehicle unit as many places in Europe and Asia have done with some success. For example, and as already suggested, by providing large car parks on the periphery plus onward mass transportation or shared taxis. Example: Singapore, which has been doing this for more than 30 years. The problem with that solution in Park City is that both the mass transport and the taxis would be underutilized outside rush hour.
Another approach is to charge a significant vehicle entry fee. Example: London. That encourages car pooling. In Park City that could take place in an ad hoc way at the entry car parks.
I suggest combining the two and anchoring them using technology widely used all over the world. My solution would be to sell prepaid electronic boxes similar to those used to pay for bridge crossings etc. in many major cities. Electronic sensors would then be used to "charge" (reduce the prepaid balance) for entry into different areas of Park City and also for parking in heavily used areas. The charge should vary depending on vehicle size because fewer pickups and SUVs can get through a light change than an equivalent number of smaller vehicles with the same number of seats. Anyone who uses downtown parking whether public or private would be required to have a box or pay the regular parking fee. Park City locals could get free or heavily discounted boxes.
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How to handle the casual visitor? Most importantly, skiers would not be hindered because they would park in the resort parking areas which would not be monitored. Other casual visitors would presumably park in paid parking lots, free hotel or store parking lots or private driveways.
Contractor vehicles are a problem. While they don’t typically park downtown, they are a major contributor to rush-hour congestion at the entry and exit points of the area. They should also be required to obtain a prepaid electronic box or face a fine. Monitoring could presumably be handled electronically by a police car driving past with a reverse scanner.
There are probably some holes in this proposal but I suspect that they can be plugged and the whole system implemented much faster and at a fraction of the cost of some of the other suggestions being considered and be much more effective.