Park City provides new details about Main Street parking changes
Paid parking at China Bridge slated for mid-December
More details are pulling in about Park City’s overhaul of parking in the historic district.
Most notably, patrons can now mark in their calendars the date when they’ll be required to open their pocketbooks to park in China Bridge, which is seen as perhaps the biggest change the city is unfurling as it aims to reduce traffic congestion near Main Street and make it easier for people to get to their favorite shops and restaurants.
The Park City Council recently recommended that the demand-based paid parking launch Dec. 15 to line up with the expiration of current China Bridge permits, delaying implementation that was initially slated to roll out sometime this summer. Speaking at a community forum addressing parking Wednesday, Kenzie Coulson, parking and fleet administrative supervisor for Park City, said visitors will have to pay only after 5 p.m. Occupancy counts have shown that is when the structure begins to rapidly fill up during the busy season.
Additionally, parking meters will be installed along Swede Alley, Heber Avenue and some stretches of Park Avenue, Coulson said. The meters lining Main Street will be replaced with new models.
The aim of expanding the paid parking requirements in the area is to encourage people to use alternate methods to get to Main Street, freeing up parking spots and making it easier for drivers to navigate the historic district without circling for parking spaces. Coulson said other municipalities that have implemented similar parking programs in popular retail areas have seen increases in sales tax revenues because more people are able to access businesses.
“It’s not about punishing anybody,” she said.
Some business owners and employees, however, remain skeptical. Jane Schaffner, owner of La Niche coffee and gift shop on Main Street, worried that forcing customers to pay for parking will keep people — especially locals — away. She also said at Wednesday’s forum that starting the fees at 5 p.m. will make it difficult for employees who work in the evenings or on day shifts that end at 6 p.m.
“If we don’t have employees, Main Street shuts down,” she said.
Park City is creating several programs to address those and other concerns. A major element will be a Main Street employee shuttle service at The Yard in Bonanza Park, on property City Hall recently purchased. Employees will be able to park there, then take a shuttle that officials say will get them to and from Main Street in about 10 minutes during peak times.
The city intends to supplement that with several other new transit options. First is a new Electric Xpress bus line that is slated to debut June 23 and will run between the Old Town and Kimball Junction transit centers at 10-minute intervals, will be able to use the shoulders along long stretches of S.R. 224 and will require fewer stops. Next will be a pilot bus service program that shuttle commuters from a park-and-ride near the Kamas Foodtown to several stops in Park City. The service is set to begin June 26.
Officials are also finalizing plans for a guaranteed-ride-home program for employees, as well as an in-town transit service called the Park City Downtowner that will allow users who live in certain neighborhoods to hail free rides using an app.
Additionally, employees who carpool will be allowed to park in China Bridge for free.
Blake Fonnesbeck, transit and public works director at City Hall, said at the forum that officials aren’t trying to prohibit employees from parking in the historic district. Rather, the goal is to get them to use an alternative method once or twice a week, which would free up enough parking for visitors. Those who do will benefit from incentives such as free parking vouchers.
Ideally, he said, the city’s expanded transit options will allow employees to determine what works best for them on any given day. If they aren’t in a rush, they can park in the city’s lot at The Yard and take the shuttle to Main Street. If they’re running late the next day, they can park at China Bridge, perhaps for free by using a voucher they’d earned the day before.
“We understand the value of employees,” he said.
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