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Expensive road suggested

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

A way to make Park City a more attractive place for pedestrians and bicyclists might make some Parkites leery: a new multi-million dollar road.

The suggestion to build a road on the perimeter of Park Meadows and scores of other less ambitious ideas were unveiled on Tuesday as a City Hall consultant released a key document outlining lots of his team’s ideas for the city’s roads, crossings, sidewalks and trails.

With a price tag of more than $4.8 million, the road is the most expensive.

According to the consulting team, the road would connect the Kearns Boulevard-Wyatt Earp Way intersection, in Prospector, with Meadows Drive, which is in Park Meadows.

The road, the consultants maintain, would reduce traffic on Kearns Boulevard, where Parkites are frustrated with the number and speed of drivers. Lots of people also say the Kearns Boulevard pedestrian crossings are unsafe. Cutting traffic by building a new road would likely please neighbors in Prospector.

Matt Riffkin, with the consulting team, says such a road, which would travel for about two-thirds of a mile, would be popular with people in Park Meadows. He says, given an option, they would take a new route toward Kearns Boulevard. That would cut traffic on Kearns Boulevard outside the schools complex.

"There weren’t many ways to solve that congestion," Riffkin admits.

An unpaved trail now roughly follows the route the road would traverse and the land’s proximity to wetlands would probably complicate efforts to build a road.

Bob Peek, who lives on Holiday Ranch Loop Road and went to the Tuesday meeting, says a new road connection at the location could reduce traffic on some Park Meadows streets. People on Sunny Slopes Drive, Meadows Drive and other streets on the edge of Park Meadows would choose a new road rather than streets like Lucky John Drive and Monitor Drive, he says.

"I think it relieves pressure on 248 in front of the schools. I think it could give, generally, better access to Park Meadows," Peek says, calling such a road a "relief valve" and "intriguing."

Riffkin says people entering and leaving Park Meadows would use the road.

He says the Park City School District owns much of the land required for a road. The $4.8 million figure could be cut if a deal were negotiated with the district for the land.

Riffkin acknowledges people who live in Park Meadows would be unhappy if drivers find a new road to be a shortcut between Kearns Boulevard and S.R. 224, which is on the western border of Park Meadows and is the route to Kimball Junction and the Salt Lake Valley.

About 35 people attended the meeting, reviewing a disparate set of potential improvements compiled by the consultant. Some were minor and are estimated to cost less than $1,000 but others are more ambitious and pricier.

Park City officials are preparing to pick which improvements to make and when they will be scheduled. During City Hall’s upcoming budget talks, the City Council is expected to decide what ideas will be funded.

Some of the ideas include:

( Improvements to the Bonanza Drive crossing near the Rail Trail, a top priority, according to the consultants. They say $244,000 could be spent on the crossing, long seen as problematic. It is estimated a pedestrian-activated signal to stop Bonanza Drive traffic at the crossing could cost $125,000. Another $37,000 could be spent on fences to funnel pedestrians and bicyclists to the crossing at the location.

( A new sidewalk on the east side of Comstock Drive, eliminating on-street parking on one side of the road. That would cost $185,000, the consultants project. Another $322,000 could fund a new sidewalk on the south side of Kearns Boulevard, from Park Avenue to Holiday Village.

( Signs directing pedestrians to crossings at the Park Avenue-Kearns Boulevard intersection. They would cost $900, the consultants say.

( Bicycle lanes on Monitor Drive, which are estimated to cost $1,000.

Mark Vlasic, who is leading the consulting team, says the city could spend 10 years on the improvements. A woman at the meeting told Vlasic there might be $50 million needed for the upgrades and she worried about the city instead choosing smaller, temporary improvements.

The city hired the consultants after Parkites complained walking and bicycling routes are unsafe. The critics argue fewer people would drive cars if they had better options for walking or taking a bicycle. City Hall officials see the improvements as a way to reduce traffic throughout the city.

In 2006, Parkites gave the city’s pedestrian and bicycling offerings mediocre grades, rating Park City a 3.42 out of 5 for pedestrians and a 3.61 for bicyclists. Many of the most recent complaints have come from people in Park Meadows and Prospector, with scattered comments from other neighborhoods like Old Town.


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