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Bonanza Drive deal inked

Bob Murphy is counting on loyal customers to continue to frequenting his Souperman soup restaurant next year, even if it is more difficult to reach the Bonanza Drive location.

The restaurant sits in what he has dubbed the "Park City food court, with parking," with several other dining options in the same shopping center. Major roadwork on Bonanza Drive, which is scheduled in 2009, will not deter all his customers, he says.

"People come specifically to eat. They will find their way," Murphy says, describing that many of his customers walk there during the busy lunch rush anyway but keeping open the option of offering coupons if he needs to entice more people inside.

City Hall has long indicated a redo of Bonanza Drive is needed, and the Park City Council recently authorized a $359,601.93 deal with an engineering firm to design the Bonanza Drive upgrades.

The Salt Lake City office of a firm called H.W. Lochner received the contract. The firm has been involved in Park City-area projects before. The City Councilors did not discuss the deal at length prior to approving the deal with Lochner. There had been extensive talks about Bonanza Drive in the months leading to the recent contract.

According to a report submitted to Mayor Dana Williams and the City Council beforehand, the design for Bonanza Drive will include, among other upgrades:

Raised medians

A traffic signal at the Bonanza Drive-Iron Horse Drive intersection

Acceleration lanes at Prospector Avenue

Restrictions on left turns

Bicycle lanes

Pedestrian tunnel at the Iron Horse Drive intersection

Turn-lane improvements

Water-line and sewer work is also planned.

The elected officials will later approve a deal for the actual work. The report indicates City Hall will seek bids for the construction by mid-spring. The construction contract will be considerably higher than the design work approved in the Lochner deal.

Traffic increases have stressed Bonanza Drive for some time, and the road has been especially congested in the past few years. The street is on the most direct route between Old Town and the two mountain resorts in Park City and Prospector, Park Meadows, the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County.

Commuter and skier traffic is heavy on Bonanza Drive, and the business district along the street is a burgeoning commercial area with additional development planned someday.

Meanwhile, turning onto Bonanza Drive from side streets and parking lots is difficult during rush hour. Backups are common on streets like Prospector Avenue and in parking lots close to the Bonanza Drive-Kearns Boulevard intersection.

Murphy says he is unsure whether the improvements will boost business once they are completed. He says, though, it will be simpler for skiers and others to drive in Park City. He hopes it will be easy to drive to the plaza where Souperman is located afterward.

Another business along Bonanza Drive, White Pine Touring, is concerned about the construction, with Charlie Sturgis, a manager, saying sales might be "plagued" by the work. He says summertime business is "very critical."

City Hall starts roadwork in the spring or early summer, depending on snowfall, and attempts to complete work by the time the weather turns bad in the late fall or early winter.

"I think it’s going to be really tough," Sturgis says. "If people can’t get to you easily, you’re going to have a hard time."

Sturgis says White Pine will be creative as it devises a business plan for 2009. He says, perhaps, he could set up what he calls an ‘adventure’ desk at a sister Jans Mountain Outfitters store to handle reservations for climbing and bicycling tours Or, Sturgis says, White Pine could deliver and pick up rental bicycles rather than requiring customers to come to the store.

Sturgis worries that the national economy will still be faltering when the Bonanza Drive work starts. If that is the case, he says, White Pine could especially suffer through the roadwork.

"We don’t need that factor thrown into the mix as well," he says.


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