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Bonanza, Kearns targeted

by Jay Hamburger

OF THE RECORD STAFF

Twisting as it descends from Silver Lake Village to lower Deer Valley, Royal Street attracts lots of bicyclists, challenging themselves on one of Park City’s most famous climbs or enjoying a pedal-free descent.

Charles Loyd, who lives on Stanford Court, off Royal Street, hopes that City Hall can ensure that the bicyclists are safe on the street, one of two routes between Silver Lake and the rest of the city.

"It’s one of the most popular hill climbs," Loyd says Tuesday at an open house at City Hall where neighbors talked about traffic and pedestrian issues. "It’s just a question of how much traffic it attracts."

Loyd says he wants City Hall to monitor bicycle safety on Royal Street and on Deer Valley Drive east of the Old Town roundabout. He also wants the local government to "keep a closer eye" on construction crews driving in the city.

Loyd’s comments were some of the few that dealt with Royal Street during three similar open houses that City Hall and a consultant hosted during the week, drawing more than 100 people over the evening sessions.

The government organized the meetings as it continues a wide-ranging exercise to discover how Parkites rate the city’s friendliness to pedestrians, bicyclists and others who are not driving cars.

Over the three nights, people made scores of suggestions that they say would make the city a safer and more welcoming place. The meetings capped talks between the government and Parkites that spread through much of the year, including lively budget hearings in the spring.

Jonathan Weidenhamer, the City Hall planner leading the government’s efforts, says he intends to deliver a report about the open houses to Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council at a meeting scheduled on Dec. 21. He says that the results of a scientific telephone survey conducted in tandem to the open houses will also be available then.

He says that City Hall plans to consider the ideas, rank them and present options to the elected officials during City Hall’s budget season, which is in the spring and early summer. Weidenhamer says some who attended the open houses might not realize that City Hall likely does not have the funds to complete all that was requested.

Over the three sessions, Parkites split into groups, poring over maps of Park City, marking roads, trails and intersections where they say there are problems.

Throughout the three sessions, people were unhappy with Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard, two roads that draw lots of traffic complaints from Partkites.

Kearns Boulevard, which is part of the state highway system, connects the city to U.S. 40 and locales in South Summit, making it a critical artery for commuters from Kamas, Oakley and Wasatch County. The Park City School District campus sits off the road, creating morning traffic backups.

"Clearly, our maps show it seems to be a problem," Weidenhamer says.

People were worried about school crossings on Kearns Boulevard and the road’s intersections with Comstock Drive and Wyatt Earp Way. Someone joked at the Wednesday open house that paintball guns should be posted at crosswalks allowing people to target cars that do not stop.

Eric DeHaan, the Park City engineer, recently reported that Kearns Boulevard is at its traffic capacity during the morning rush hour but traffic is not a problem the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, Bonanza Drive is tough to cross, says Glenn Wright, a part-time Parkite who plans to move to Park City in January. Wright, who has a place on the 1400 block of Park Avenue, says lots of spots in the city are friendly to pedestrians, but not Bonanza Drive.

"Getting across is cheating death," Wright says. "Nobody has enough time to react. You have to be quick to get across there."

Suggestions in Old Town and Deer Valley were broad. People want a continuous sidewalk along Deer Valley Drive, such as where the Line Condominiums sit on the 500 block of the road, they want better Old Town sidewalks and they complain that tourists who drive to Park City are not aware of bicyclists. The ‘Share the Road’ campaign, which urges drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to respect each other, could be expanded, someone said.

Weidenhamer says that some people he spoke to told him that solutions could be simple, such as City Hall posting more signs or flashing lights warning drivers of crossings.

The open houses occurred as Park City enters the busy ski season and, with the height of the season approaching, there have been widespread complaints about traffic.

City Hall has long been proud of its trails and walkways and says that providing options like those is a method to reduce the number of people who drive in the city.

The open houses, Weidenhamer says, did not reveal lots of issues that the government was unaware of beforehand.

"I can’t say I heard a ton of things that were unexpected," Weidenhamer says.


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