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Bonanza conundrum continues

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

City Hall officials on Monday will likely talk about extreme measures to ease traffic on Bonanza Drive, the frequently clogged road that frustrates drivers on their way in and out of Park City.

The road has perplexed the local government for several years, but complaints have been especially intense in 2007, when there have been few periods when the road was not backed up during rush hour.

Park City Engineer Eric DeHaan, who is influential as City Hall plans road improvements, says long-term ideas for Bonanza Drive include:

( Widening Bonanza Drive to five lanes. It now has three lanes — one in each direction and a middle turn lane. DeHaan says the road could be expanded to five lanes, with two in each direction and a turn lane.

( Installing a raised median, which would prohibit drivers from turning left.

( Building roundabouts at key intersections on Bonanza Drive.

Each of the ideas has been discussed before, with the roundabouts receiving the most attention in 2007.

Under that scenario, roundabouts could be built at intersections like Iron Horse Drive, Munchkin Drive and Prospector Avenue. That stretch of the road is notorious for backing up.

Roundabouts, the backers say, would reduce congestion by allowing drivers turning left to enter the traffic circle and drive around rather than waiting for a break in the traffic.

DeHaan warns, though, City Hall must obtain land from the private sector to build roundabouts.

Meanwhile, widening Bonanza Drive to five lanes would be a pricey option, DeHaan says, and he expects doing so would not be feasible until between 2010 and 2016.

A five-lane road promises a smoother drive for people traveling locally but stop-and-go traffic for others, the city engineer says. DeHaan envisions a five-lane Bonanza Drive requiring at least two additional stoplights, at the Munchkin Drive and Iron Horse Drive intersections, and possibly another at the Prospector Avenue intersection.

"For the local traffic, it would make it more comfortable," he says, also noting the slowdown effects of the additional stoplights on commuters.

Monday’s meeting will follow less than a week after Election Day, when Parkites, worried about pedestrian and bicyclist safety, overwhelmingly passed a $15 million bond for upgrades. Some of the money will almost certainly fund work to make it easier to cross Bonanza Drive, which Parkites say is among the most dangerous roads in the city to walk or bicycle across.

City Hall plans to install a water line underneath Bonanza Drive in 2009, and officials want to complete roadwork and pedestrian improvements at the same time. The Park City Council is expected to decide which options to pursue for the road in the coming months, with a DeHaan anticipating a key meeting with the City Council in December.

Bonanza Drive fails during the afternoon rush hour, and the street is especially bad during the busiest days, traffic engineers have found. The road connects Kearns Boulevard with Deer Valley Drive, and it is the primary road in the burgeoning North of Main district. It is also the key artery between the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County and Old Town and Deer Valley.

Rodman Jordan, who leads the NoMa merchants, says he plans Monday to present a radical concept for traffic, involving digging a new road corridor along the Bonanza Drive route. The new road, lowered from the present street, would serve commuters, with Jordan describing it as an "express route." Regular traffic would travel on the current road.

"I think we’re cutting edge in so many things that we do," Jordan says. "How cutting edge is this? Not really."

Bonanza Drive meeting

When: Monday, Nov. 12 , 5- 7 p.m.

Where: Miners Hospital

Who: City Hall staffers and the local government’s consultants plan to present information. The meeting is open to the public, and it will likely draw interest from people with businesses along Bonanza Drive and those who commute on the road.

For more information: Call 1-801-262-8700 or visit the project’s Internet site, http://www.bonanzadriveproject.com


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