Bicycle races could bring traffic havoc to Old Town | ParkRecord.com

Bicycle races could bring traffic havoc to Old Town

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Many people in Old Town might be under the impression the traffic havoc and crowds that accompanied the Park City Kimball Arts Festival in early August would not be repeated until at least Miners Day or maybe even the upcoming ski season.

There is a chance, though, they could see a similar scene this weekend as the Tour of Utah bicycle race arrives in Park City. City Hall has agreed to close an important set of stretches of street to traffic for the bicyclists to compete in what is known as a criterium, a timed event that is part of the overall race.

The streets will close at 6 a.m. on Saturday and City Hall expects them to reopen by 8 p.m. The closures include:

  • Main Street
  • Heber Avenue
  • Swede Alley
  • Park Avenue between Heber Avenue and 7th Street

    Traffic on Park Avenue from Heber Avenue to King Road will be restricted to one-way traffic southbound, or uphill.

    "Access around the race course should be pretty good, but it needs to be a closed course," said Max Paap, who handles special events for City Hall and has been heavily involved in the preparations for the Tour of Utah stage in Park City.

    Paap said the racers are scheduled to ride the course for 90 minutes, from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. There is a series of other races scheduled earlier in the day as well, starting at 9:30 a.m., according to the slate published on City Hall’s website.

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    City Hall is expecting large crowds on Saturday, with organizers telling Paap as many as 12,000 people could watch if the weather is nice. He said the course could be lined with spectators three or four people deep.

    Spectators will be directed to park at Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and the schools complex on Kearns Boulevard. Free buses will shuttle people to and from Main Street from the parking lots. People who want to park in the China Bridge garage should use Marsac Avenue for access.

    Paap said a free valet for bicycles will be available at the Town Lift garage at Main Street and 9th Street.

    "If you don’t need to drive, don’t drive," Paap said.

    Saturday’s event is planned to be far more ambitious than the role Park City played in the Tour of Utah last year. In 2009, the organizers started a stage of the race in Park City with three laps on Main Street before riding out of the city. Paap said Main Street was closed down to drivers for approximately one hour last year.

    Alison Butz, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, a business group centered on Main Street, predicts a "fantastic event" on Saturday. She hopes the spectators stay on Main Street after the races to shop and dine, indicating she expects strong sales.

    "The merchants are going to be glad this is a last big shebang," Butz said.

    For more information about Saturday’s events and the street closures, visit City Hall’s website, http://www.parkcity.org, and select the ‘Tour of Utah (in Park City)’ link. People may also contact Paap at 615-5188.