Park City Board of Education approves designs for tunnel under S.R. 248
Generally, the most congested hours on S.R. 248 are during the start and end of the school days. Parents, buses and students walking and biking crowd the road as commuters try to pass through. Park City hopes to reduce the traffic by building a tunnel under the major road near Park City High School.
At a Park City Board of Education meeting last week, the Board approved a design from the city to build a pedestrian and bike tunnel. The tunnel would replace a signalized crosswalk that many students use to cross S.R. 248 to get to the school and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seminary building on the south side of the street.
Julia Collins, senior transportation planner for the city, said that the current crosswalk causes traffic delays. During peak times, such as between 7 and 8 a.m., the button to cross is pressed approximately 23 times an hour.
Pedestrians are supposed to wait about 30 to 45 seconds before the signal is up and they are allowed to cross. Once they cross, cars must stop to check for more pedestrians.
“It causes a significant amount of delay on that corridor,” she said.
Now that the design has been approved by the school district, Collins said that the city and Horrocks Engineers, the firm designing the project, plan to finish the remainder of the engineering design work this summer. They plan to focus on utility relocation in the winter and begin construction on the tunnel in the spring.
This will be the second tunnel along the Park City stretch of S.R. 248. The first one provides access to Treasure Mountain Junior High and McPolin Elementary School.
The decision to create the tunnel was also led by a desire from both the city and the school district to increase safety for students as they cross the road, Collins said. A public document that requires signatures from both the city and the district states that the “pedestrian underpass will provide for a higher level of safety and connectivity for school students as well as the community at-large.”
Collins said that getting the Board’s approval on the project was important, especially as the district considers future changes to schools with its master plan.
“We wanted to hear their feedback on how that would interact with their plans knowing that the school is going through their master planning,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that we could ‘future proof’ what they are doing and that it aligns with their goals and also the work that we are doing on (S.R.) 248.”
The project is being led by the city, but the school district and LDS church are providing the land and the easements to access the tunnel, Collins said.
The tunnel design features retaining walls, stairs, ADA pedestrian ramps and additional crosswalk striping. Some of the benefits of the selected design compared to the other two options was that the tunnel is sandwiched between the parking lot and the path for increased safety, it provides better access points for users and it does not impact internal bus movements. The tunnel’s length is also shorter than other options.
Both entities are expected to partner to provide lighting, security cameras and snow removal.
Collins said that the district would be solely responsible for the access to the school through the tunnel. She said that the tunnel will be similar to the Comstock tunnel by Treasure Mountain Junior High, which has video surveillance cameras and lighting. She said that the other tunnel’s safety measures have been successful.
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Arlene Loble served as the Park City manager in the 1980s, a pivotal period that prepared the community for the boom years that would follow in the 1990s. Loble, who recently died, is credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the municipal government that was needed amid the growth challenges.