City contemplates new park and rides for festival
It would probably be frustrating for Mark Spencer to watch busloads of Sundance Film Festival revelers zoom by his Bonanza Drive barbecue restaurant without stopping.
But on Monday, the day after the 2006 festival ended, Spencer described the scenario as inevitable.
As the festival wrapped and officials started considering changes for 2007, there was talk about further expanding the festival’s park-and-ride shuttle system. That, they say, would reduce the number of drivers in Old Town, which is overwhelmed each year with motorists during the festival.
Spencer accepts that a better park-and-ride system may help the community, saying it "needs to be done" and it’s for the overall good." Still, it could hurt his business, Spencer’s Smokin’ Grill, he predicts.
"The buses and shuttles would bypass our complex here, so that wouldn’t be good," Spencer said.
At City Hall and the Sundance Institute, there is talk about a beefed-up park-and-ride system, perhaps as early as next year.
Alison Butz, who directs special events for City Hall, said park-and-ride lots are under consideration along S.R. 224 and S.R. 248. This year, a park-and-ride lot debuted at Snow Park Lodge and the addition was seen as a success. Butz, though, said she prefers that drivers are directed to a park-and-ride lot before they reach downtown.
"I think it’s hard to drive people past where they want to go," she said, referring to Snow Park’s location, which required people to drive by Main Street.
But if there are fewer cars driving into Old Town, the buses route would take less time, she said.
Butz suggests that there could be a park-and-ride lot at Kimball Junction and along S.R. 248, nearby the city’s new ice arena at Quinn’s Junction. She said the city would like to net a minimum of 400 spaces between the two.
"We need to get them off the road sooner," she said.
Butz said she is unsure how much it would cost to create the lots but acknowledged that the further they are from Park City, the more it will cost to run a bus route. She said how the lots are funded depends on how they operate, like whether they are open just during the festival or all year.
In addition to the Deer Valley park-and-ride lot, there was more restrictive parking in Old Town this year and the organizers generated lots of publicity about the difficulties of driving and parking in the neighborhood.
City Hall reports that ridership on the regular bus system and Sundance shuttle system was up in 2006, from 270,000 in 2005 to 330,000 this year.
Brian Cambria, a Sundance transportation consultant, touts the expanded park-and-ride system of 2006.
"The word got out there," he said.
Cambria commented on the possibility of park-and-ride lots along the entryways. He said a lot along S.R. 248 would be problematic unless a lane was dedicated to buses. He said otherwise traffic backs up on the highway in the morning and afternoon. He said a 1,000-car lot there would be useful.
Along S.R. 224, a lot at Kimball Junction would require a more expensive route because of its distance from Old Town, he said, adding that festival-goers will be less likely to use the lot because of the distance.
But he mentioned perhaps a permanent parking lot could be built off S.R. 224, across from the McPolin Farm. He said he understands that such a parking lot would be controversial because Park City tries to protect its entryways.
"I think they were ready to try something different," he said about 2006.
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.