Neighbors want no-turn signs again
Prospector neighbors, continuing to pressure City Hall to reduce traffic on their streets, have won the local government’s support for signs barring left turns at two intersections.
The Park City Council recently agreed with the neighbors that the signs should be put up westbound on Kearns Boulevard at the Wyatt Earp Way and Buffalo Bill Drive intersections.
However, Eric DeHaan, the city engineer, says the Utah Department of Transportation must agree that the signs should be installed. Kearns Boulevard is part of the state highway system, where it is known as S.R. 248, and the transportation department decides the road’s policies, including where signs are installed.
The neighbors claim that traffic is terrible on side streets in Prospector and they blame some of the problem on drivers on S.R. 248 who turn left onto their streets.
The drivers, they say, try to avoid traffic backups on Kearns Boulevard near the Park City School District campus. Once the drivers turn onto the Prospector streets, they frequently speed toward Old Town and the Prospector business district, the neighbors claim.
Westbound S.R. 248 is the direction into Park City from Quinn’s Junction. The signs would prohibit left-hand turns from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m., DeHaan predicts.
DeHaan says he and Park City Manager Tom Bakaly plan to meet with state transportation officials on Wednesday, when he expects the local government will request new signs.
"That means they will assign it to their traffic engineer," DeHaan says. "In this case, I think the answer will be ‘Yes.’"
If the state agrees, DeHaan predicts the signs will be installed at the end of January, at the earliest. Because a state highway is involved, City Hall is unable to put up the signs without approval.
Meanwhile, Phil Kirk, a Police Department lieutenant, reports his department positioned three officers in the neighborhood on Monday morning, from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m., one each on Wyatt Earp Way, Sidewinder Drive and Buffalo Bill Drive. Kirk says the officers wrote about five tickets and warned about five other drivers for speeding and stop sign violations.
"It’s certainly going to help. Our challenge is being able to staff it frequently enough," Kirk says about the signs, noting police officers during the morning rush hour are busy monitoring school zones.
In a recent report to Mayor Dana Williams and the City Council, Public Works Director Jerry Gibbs and Police Chief Lloyd Evans say signs prohibiting left turns were posted on westbound Kearns Boulevard in 2001, as the road was widened. But the Police Department in 2005 asked that the signs be removed because, the police say, the department did not have enough officers to enforce the rule.
When the signs were removed, the neighbors say, traffic increased.
DeHaan says reposting the signs could reduce traffic cutting through Prospector by about 10 percent, or by about 100 cars each morning. He says, though, other drivers will use the roads anyway to get to work and their homes. DeHaan cautions Chatham Hills construction crews driving to work would be problematic for other neighbors as well.
During a Dec. 7 City Council meeting, neighbors asked that the signs be reposted. One neighbor said he did not move to Park City expecting lots of trucks would drive by his house, requested speed cameras be installed to catch drivers and said he wanted commuter traffic kept off interior streets in Prospector.
The City Council decision was a rare overrule of City Hall staffers, who had recommended that it be delayed until the city’s annual budget season, scheduled to start in the spring. The staffers had said that the signs should have been considered as part of a wider review of growth, traffic and walking trends.
The decision came as Park City conducts a wide-ranging debate about the safety of walkers, bicyclists and others who are not driving cars. There have been lots of complaints about Kearns Boulevard during those discussions, including a well-attended series of open houses.
It also came at the beginning of Park City’s traditionally busy ski season, when traffic is usually the worst of the year. At the end of November, during a snowstorm, traffic backed up for miles on S.R. 248, leaving drivers in gridlock trying to leave the city in the afternoon.
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