Traffic: this guy’s dilemma
May 13, 2008
Matt Cassel arrives in his new job as the Park City engineer in the city’s down time, with the streets free of the ski-season traffic that will challenge him as the City Hall official who is most responsible for solving the congestion Parkites and visitors loathe.
And, just after starting, Cassel admits he has not figured out the traffic problems yet. Eric DeHaan, who was his predecessor, consultants and elected officials over years have also attempted to devise ways to lessen the traffic, but many Parkites and commuters remain frustrated.
Traffic especially backs up on the S.R. 248 entryway, and streets like Bonanza Drive and Park Avenue are busy.
"On Day 4, I don’t have an answer for that one," Cassel admits as he talks about traffic.
He says Park City’s mountainous terrain limits where roads are built, and he plans to review DeHaan’s work regarding traffic. He pledges to listen to regular Parkites to learn about their concerns.
"If it’s the community’s biggest concern, it will be my biggest concern," Cassel says.
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The city engineer is an influential figure at City Hall, with the person making key decisions about roadwork and assisting in development discussions between city officials and the private sector.
City Hall continues to rebuild Old Town streets, with major work planned in 2008, the local government is readying for a significant redo of Bonanza Drive and officials are preparing to spend $15 million to make Park City easier to navigate for pedestrians, bicyclists and others not driving cars. Cassel will have important roles in those discussions.
He is 46 years old, lives in Sandy and has been an engineer for 22 years, starting with the city government in Indianapolis for six years and working in the private sector until taking the Park City job. Cassel says a government job allows him more chances to work with people in the community.
"I like engineering, but I came to the realization a little while ago I’m more about the people than the projects," he says.
He spent 8 1/2 years with Psomas, an engineering firm with offices in Salt Lake City, and several of his assignments were in Park City. The local work included relocating water pipes at Silver Star, a development on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort.
"He just knows his stuff. He’s innovative. He’s bright," says Rory Murphy, the Silver Star developer and a member of the Park City Planning Commission, recounting that Cassel figured out complex waterworks issues for Silver Star.
Cassel has a master’s in business administration, according to a City Hall release announcing his hiring. He is licensed as a professional engineer in Utah and Indiana, the city says.
"I’ve been in enough meetings and worked with enough people I feel comfortable stepping into this job," he says.