Neighbors gripe about traffic
People from Prospector hounded City Hall Thursday night for help in reducing traffic on side streets, saying that drivers are using the neighborhood as a shortcut into Park City.
That, they said during a boisterous Park City Council meeting, makes it dangerous in Prospector as they offered Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council lots of ideas, some appearing to the officials as being reasonable and others seeming to be outlandish.
The City Council was not scheduled to make decisions regarding traffic in Prospector but the meeting likely reflected some of the discussions that will unfold over the next six months, as City Hall, in a well-publicized study, considers how safe Park City is for walkers and bicyclists and then, in the spring, considers the budget.
The Prospector neighbors dominated the meeting and the elected officials provided minimal input afterward. They said they were happy that the people packed the City Council chambers and that cooperation is needed between the city, the Utah Department of Transportation and the Park City School District. Williams, who lives in Prospector, agreed that traffic is bad.
"I don’t need a study, personally," he said.
The key road in Prospector is S.R. 248, known in Park City as Kearns Boulevard, a state highway that passes the school district’s Park City campus and one of two all-year entryways into Park City.
The Thursday discussion, which was interrupted repeatedly by applause from the several dozen neighbors who attended, especially targeted streets like Comstock Drive, Buffalo Bill Drive, Annie Oakley Drive and Doc Holliday Drive, the street where the mayor lives.
"It is frustrating for these folks," said Nick Kingery, a Park City police officer who lives on Cooke Drive, to applause from neighbors who are pleased with his traffic patrols.
The neighbors’ anxiety dates to more than a year ago, when, according to Public Works Director Jerry Gibbs, signs banning left turns from westbound S.R. 248 at Wyatt Earp Way and Buffalo Bill Drive were removed, allowing drivers to turn into Prospector. They were installed four years earlier, Gibbs says in a report, when crews widened S.R. 248 in a significant reconstruction. Gibbs says that people in Prospector complained that traffic increased once the signs were taken down.
During the Thursday meeting, people said that drivers are choosing the side streets as an alternative to S.R. 248. Gibbs says in a report that the "vast majority" of the drivers are headed to Prospector businesses.
"It’s worsening," said Joe Maslowski, who lives on Wyatt Earp Way.
Maslowski, a Prospector leader, showed a video illustrating traffic in the neighborhood, charged that drivers do not heed stop signs, predicted the traffic will worsen when the city’s mountain resorts open and said he wants money earmarked in the budget to consider ways to reduce neighborhood traffic. He said blocking Wyatt Earp Way to reduce traffic should be studied.
"We absolutely refuse to let them walk down that road," he said about kids.
Bonnie Brown, who lives on Doc Holliday Drive, talked about drivers ignoring stop signs while she walks her dogs.
"I’ve had to pull my dogs back, forcibly, on a leash," she said.
Traffic is among the most frequent complaints throughout Park City. People who live in diverse neighborhoods like Old Town and Park Meadows oftentimes also say that they are fed up with speeders and congestion.
The testimony from the neighbors on Thursday was wide ranging. Ideas included that the school district should start classes later so morning commuters do not mix with traffic heading to the schools, routing some traffic, like drivers heading to The Canyons, to Interstate 80, lowering the speed limit on side streets to 15 mph and putting electronic speed signs on Sidewinder Drive that display how fast a driver is traveling.
Someone suggested that another road connection from the east is needed, perhaps paralleling or replacing the popular Rail Trail, which stretches east from Park City to Echo. Another person talked about the potential of building an underpass beneath S.R. 248.
The meeting occurred the week that the 2006-2007 ski season was scheduled to start, when traffic is usually at its worst. Traffic on S.R. 248 has been increasingly worrisome to people for a few years. The road is popular with drivers who live on the East Side of Summit County and in Wasatch County. Scores of people residing in those areas work in Park City, frequently creating long backups into or out of the city.
There was also limited talk about the likelihood of more traffic should the North of Main district succeed in turning itself into a hotspot.
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Bruce Erickson, the planning director at City Hall, has died, the municipal government said. Erickson was involved at some level in nearly all the major decisions regarding growth and development in Park City since the early 1990s.