Interstate 80 closure sends truckers onto steep, twisty Park City road
The midweek closure of Interstate 80 in the Snyderville Basin to erect a wildlife overpass led some truck drivers to opt for a route over Guardsman Pass, a scenic but narrow, windy and high-altitude alternative between the Salt Lake Valley and Park City that is more typically picked by sightseeing drivers.
The Park City Police Department reported a series of issues starting on Tuesday night as the trucks attempted to bypass the closure with a route through the city. Guardsman Pass connects Park City and Big Cottonwood Canyon. Marsac Avenue through Old Town and Empire Pass is the most direct route from the Park City side, but the two-lane road is steep in places with a series of curves.
Jay Randall, a Police Department sergeant, said the truck drivers used GPS navigation to determine a route to avoid the closure on the interstate. The GPS, though, did not provide details about the steepness or narrowness of the road that crosses Guardsman Pass. He said the drivers attempted to move through Park City and across Guardsman Pass, where they could descend Big Cottonwood Canyon to the Salt Lake Valley. They could return to the interstate in the valley.
“All of those are not very conducive to a 40-foot trailer,” Randall said about the steepness of the road and the hairpin turns, calling the route “pretty sketchy” for a truck.
Randall said the police turned away between 20 and 25 trucks as they attempted to travel over Guardsman Pass on Tuesday night. In one instance, a truck became stuck south of the Montage Deer Valley, he said. The Police Department assisted as the truck backed down Marsac Avenue to a point where it could turn around, Randall said. In another case, a truck hit a transformer box south of the Montage Deer Valley, causing a temporary power loss to an unspecified number of addresses, according to Randall.
The sergeant said the Police Department and the Utah Department of Transportation starting on Wednesday night prohibited truck traffic on Marsac Avenue south of the Old Town roundabout as a result of the problems. The main roads toward Guardsman Pass on the Park City side — Deer Valley Drive and Marsac Avenue — are part of the state highway system and are also known as S.R. 224. Randall said Wasatch County officials were also involved in the discussions since there is a route to that county from Guardsman Pass.
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