January 24 editorial | ParkRecord.com

January 24 editorial

Does Wasatch Front pollution give us a glimpse of our future?

Anyone who has been in Salt Lake City this month knows air pollution is a not just a scientific theory — it is a real menace. And anyone who has been paying attention also knows that gunky, yellow-gray cloud is oozing toward Park City at an alarming rate.

In the past, Parkites have been smug about the smog in the valley. The pristine air has even been used to entice pollution-bound Salt Lakers to spend a day or two in Park City.

But our bragging rights might be approaching their expiration date.

Park City is making an effort to measure and reduce its carbon footprint, but the city’s efforts may not be enough to offset the burgeoning population. The municipal corporation buys wind-energy offsets, runs natural gas buses and supports recycling. But traffic jams are now a daily hassle.

There is still a lot of work to be done.

Experts say one of the most effective ways to snuff out air pollution is to reduce the number of cars on the road. The stepped-up bus system during the Sundance Film Festival is a great example of how effective public transit can and should be in Park City. Not only did the buses reduce traffic congestion, thus air pollution, and ease parking pressure in Old Town, it also forced a lot of couch potatoes to get out and walk.

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Unfortunately, a lot of residents only use the buses during special events (guilty as charged) and, since the city sets the bus schedule based on demand, frequency ebbs when the events shut down. So, of course, it becomes less convenient to give public transit a try.

Parkites and those who commute to town from the surrounding area need to take a close look at the black residue on the snow pack, at the grime coating their windshields after a day in an Old Town parking lot, and at the haze that has begun to accumulate during the 5 p.m. rush hour. And then drive down Parley’s Canyon and ask if that’s what we want Park City to look like every January.