With populations growing in Kamas and Heber City and a large influx of workers in those towns commuting to the Park City area, Summit County is seeking to address already existing as well as future transportation problems.
During the Feb. 18 Council of Governments meeting, Summit County Manager Bob Jasper, several County Councilors and East Side mayors discussed the transportation issues currently facing the county and what steps might be taken to remedy them.
Within the county, Jasper pointed to Kamas as a growing community with increasing numbers of residents driving to jobs in Park City and the Snyderville Basin. As a way to reduce traffic loads, he suggested a bus line between the Park City area and Kamas.
"If we bring buses to Kamas, the people of Kamas are not paying a tax for it," Jasper said. "So we'll have to work through that."
Where a bus stop in Kamas would be located is another issue. County Councilman Dave Ure said he would not want any park-and-ride lot to adversely impact local businesses.
"Where will people park their cars for 12 to 14 hours without taking up Food Town's parking lot?" Ure said.
Regarding the county's Transportation Master Plan, which has not been updated since 2009, Kamas Mayor Lewis Marchant said he would like to address transportation issues sooner rather than later.
"Rather than for the Kamas Valley to become like the Snyderville Basin with [their] traffic problems, let's [update the plan] ahead of time so we recognize what those problems are going to be so we solve it before it hits us," Marchant said.
Because the federal government, which provides about half of the money for the joint Summit County/Park City bus service, requires Summit County to have short and long-range transportation plans, Jasper said the Heber and Kamas Valleys were the two areas of concern.
On the Heber Valley side, Ure said that Wasatch County is putting a lot of drivers on the State Road 248 corridor and that Summit County needs cooperation from them in solving transportation problems.
Summit County Councilman Roger Armstrong said both counties need to accommodate what he calls the "staggering" amount of development that is slated in Wasatch County near US 40.
Wasatch County Manager Mike Davis confirmed that a significant amount of development is in the works around the Jordanelle Reservoir. He said his county has had some discussions with Summit County on transportation but they have been "very informal."
Davis added that there has been an impasse in the past between Wasatch County and Park City, as Park City has allowed affordable housing in Wasatch County to count toward its required affordable housing.
Although he could not speak directly for Heber City, Davis said that they have been "hesitant" to pursue public transportation because then a portion of transportation taxes would be earmarked toward public transportation.
"If [a city] doesn't have public transportation, they can have a higher tax rate," Davis said. "But if they do have public transportation, a portion of those taxes [would have] to go to public transit."
Davis said Wasatch County has a member involved with the Mountain Accord, which seeks to address recreational, economic, transportation and environmental issues on the Wasatch Front and Back. Summit County is looking for ways to allow East Side mayors to have a voice in the process as well.
Armstrong recommended that Summit County could sell public transportation passes to major employers in the area to encourage their employees to take buses, should bus lines be created between the Park City area and Kamas and Heber City. Ure said another issue that affects transportation is promoting business on the East Side.
"One of the reasons we're pushing economic development on the East Side is because then fewer people will have to drive to Park City or Salt Lake City [to work]," Ure said.