More Dogs on Main Street Tom Clyde
July 28, 2007
Man, the summer is flying by. Art Festival is next weekend. It used to be that Art Festival was the peak of the summer traffic mess, but any more, it’s a pleasant lull in the gridlock. I swear every one of the girls playing in the softball tournament brought three cars with her, and most of them aren’t old enough to drive. Christmas week traffic is calm compared to what we’ve endured this summer, complicated by endless construction as well as the softball gridlock. I don’t know what the solution is. Turning Prospector into a gated community hardly seems like a cure-all. Throwing more impediments into the mix speed bumps, lane constrictions, and so on only makes it harder to get around. There isn’t a beltway or new highway solution, although SR 248 needs to be re-striped as four lanes. Of course, the hospital and related stuff out there won’t add to the traffic mess, according to their traffic study. The employees, patients, and visitors there will be teleported through MRI machines or something.
Anyway, traffic in town is so bad that I find myself avoiding coming into town. If an errand can be done at Kimball Junction, even though it’s several miles farther from home, I’ll go there before venturing into Park City. Better still, I try to do what I can in Kamas. There isn’t the selection of things that there is at the Junction, or Park City, but it’s pretty darn civilized these days. I have to admit that the choice between facing Salt Lake at 105 degrees or battling Park City traffic has tipped toward dealing with the heat.
Park City traffic isn’t just heavy. It’s getting aggressive. Turn signals are increasingly rare. People yakking on their phones assume they have the right-of-way. Red lights are optional. Giant SUVs just plow across Bonanza on the assumption that everybody else will stop for them. I always thought that, if an oncoming car had to brake for your left turn, you didn’t have enough room to be making the turn. Apparently the rule is now that if the oncoming car can avoid hitting you by locking all four wheels, then what’s the big deal? Blissful as life in general is around here, driving in Park City is just plain unpleasant. Since only a very few people actually live in town, the majority of employees and customers are commuters from someplace else. The end result is a nasty gridlock. I used to invent reasons to come into town, to walk Main Street, and really get into the heart of it. Now, a trip to Main Street ranks right up there with a root canal.
The Chamber is pushing a "shop local" campaign. It’s a great idea, and many of the local shops are owned by friends I’d love to support. But the traffic is a real negative. The pitch is that local goods aren’t any more expensive than the same products in Salt Lake. But when you factor in the aggravation of dealing with Park City traffic, I’m happy to order online, or drive to the valley. Frankly, I’d pay more to avoid dealing with Park City’s traffic mess.
As I said before, I don’t have the solution. The city’s approach has been to stack debris in the middle of the streets to further clog things up. As one of those commuters from the hinterlands, I’m part of the problem. Traffic is me. My solution has become one of avoidance. I’m doing more and more of my shopping online, in Kamas, Heber and the Junction not that the Junction is a model of traffic efficiency. There are good lunch places out in the industrial park, a nice little bakery/deli at Silver Creek. When push comes to shove, it’s hard to come up with a reason to battle my way into Park City. I suspect my reaction to the traffic mess is not unique. In the long run, that can’t be a good thing for Park City.
Speaking of traffic congestion, I have a bit of a problem right in my own front yard. Since I added the 1953 Farmall to the fleet, I now have not one, but two more vehicles than garages to park them in. The snowplow truck, which is hideously ugly, is kind of hidden by trees this time of year. The farm truck with the license plates on it goes in one garage bay. The Jetta goes in the attached garage under the house, and the VW bus is in the other bay of the auxiliary garage. That leaves the tractor, which I consider a piece of high-style industrial art, on the front lawn. It needs to be under cover.
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So to pare down the ridiculous fleet, I decided to list the VW camper on eBay. It’s a curious thing, listing a 17-year-old used car on the Internet and getting bids from people who have never seen it, let alone looked for signs of catastrophic mechanical failures that seem quite probable given its age. But I was getting bids from all over. Most people didn’t want to play the auction game and would contact me directly and ask, "What do you really want for it." It was a pretty amazing process.
If they knew anybody in the area, they sent a proxy out to check it out. I showed it a half dozen times, and only one of them was actually the person interested in buying it. The rest of them were looking on somebody else’s behalf, and were kind of unclear on the whole concept of why anybody would be excited about a 17-year-old Westy.
In the end, after an hour-long phone conversation with a guy in Portland who offered me more money than I ever expected to get out of it, I decided that I couldn’t part with it. I pulled the auction, turned down a couple of big offers. Now I’m trying to figure out how to add on to the garage.
Tom Clyde served as Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of "More Dogs On Main Street." He has been a columnist at The Park Record for nearly 20 years.