Bonanza Drive: ‘short-term pain for long-term gain’
It will be tougher, but certainly not impossible, to get to Craig Weaver’s Bonanza Drive restaurant over the next few months for a fix of Mexican food.
Weaver’s place, El Chubasco, and numerous other restaurants, stores and offices sit just off Bonanza Drive, which starting next week will undergo its second consecutive year of heavy construction.
This year, though, the crews will be working on the busy stretch of Bonanza Drive where the businesses are situated, leaving owners and rank-and-file workers anxious about what the sales numbers will look like with major roadwork occurring alongside a sputtering economy that has already hurt business.
The construction is anticipated to start on Tuesday, and crews have been seen along Bonanza Drive in recent days conducting prep work for the upcoming redo. Numerous markings have been put onto the street and the workers have been seen taking close looks at Bonanza Drive. Flaggers are expected to direct traffic starting next week.
"Everybody’s a little nervous going into summer months having major intersection closures," Weaver said during a recent open house held to brief people about the Bonanza Drive work.
Weaver acknowledged he expects sales could sink between 10 percent and 15 percent during the summer, even as he counts on Parkites to continue coming to the restaurant. The numbers could be even worse at the height of the construction, he said, adding that El Chubasco will adjust staffing levels accordingly.
Weaver is pleased with the designs for Bonanza Drive and the pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel that will be built underneath Bonanza Drive close to the Rail Trail, predicting that the redone road will someday attract more customers to the corridor.
The project is scheduled for completion in November, with Granite Construction leading the work, as it did during last year’s first phase.
Some of the upgrades include:
The pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel underneath Bonanza Drive at the Iron Horse Drive intersection. The tunnel will be put in quickly after Labor Day. Retaining walls at the tunnel site will be built starting in August. The only anticipated closure of a section of the street will be scheduled when the tunnel is installed.
Replacing water and sewer lines
New streetlights along Bonanza Drive and Iron Horse Drive
Replacing the sidewalks on both sides of Bonanza Drive from Iron Horse Drive to Kearns Boulevard
A new pedestrian-bicyclist crossing at the Munchkin Road intersection. A pedestrian-activated signal will be installed allowing someone to stop traffic to cross.
New bicycle lanes on each side of Bonanza Drive
Matt Cassel, the city engineer and the City Hall staffer leading the efforts, said this year’s work is expected to cost $4.2 million, with some of that set aside from a voter-authorized bond to pay for pedestrian and bicyclist upgrades. The work last year cost approximately $1.2 million.
Bonanza Drive links Kearns Boulevard, and it is heavily traveled by commuters and skier traffic heading inbound from neighborhoods like Prospector and Park Meadows. It is also the most direct route from the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County to Old Town, Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. Traffic backups can be terrible in the winter and there are regularly delays during the rest of the year.
City Hall and the firms hired as part of the project are encouraging the businesses along Bonanza Drive to be aggressive as they seek customers in the summer and the fall and maintain a positive attitude during the work. Cassel said the businesses would be smart to devise marketing gimmicks to attract people. A workshop was held earlier to prepare the businesses.
The business corridor remains an up-and-coming commercial district, replete with art galleries, restaurants and shops, and some of the figures with interests along Bonanza Drive hope that the roadwork and the tunnel will make redevelopment more viable someday. There have been ideas to fill the Bonanza Drive corridor with shops, restaurants and loft-style living, but they have not advanced significantly. City Hall is mulling the long-term future of the area, dubbed by officials the Park Bonanza district.
Mark J. Fischer, who has extensive holdings on Bonanza Drive and on nearby streets, sees the redone street as crucial to his ideas to redevelop his properties in what would be an ambitious makeover of large swaths of the district. The area, he said, will be "more desirable."
"Short-term pain for long-term gain," Fischer said. "We have to do this as a community."
A website and hotline have been set up with information about the roadwork. The website is http://www.bonanzadrive.com. The hotline is 615-5190.
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