Park City critic wants Rail Trail study ‘squashed, period’
Prospector man says there is a possibility injunction will be sought
September 19, 2017
A Park City man intends to start a petition calling for the Rail Trail to be preserved for recreation amid talk of creating a road corridor along the route of the popular trail, an early move by a critic in the days after it was widely publicized the Utah Department of Transportation is considering the future of the city's eastern entryway.
Douglas Duditch, who lives in Prospector near the Rail Trail, appeared at a Park City Council meeting recently as City Hall leaders met with representatives of the Utah Department of Transportation for the first time about the topic. In an interview after the meeting, Duditch said the critics also plan to aggressively oppose the prospects of a road corridor.
"We're going to make sure attorneys are aware and see if there's a possibility of an injunction to stop it, the study," Duditch said. "We want it squashed, the Rail Trail squashed, period."
The comments were made shortly after the Utah Department of Transportation distributed a notification letter to property owners close to the Rail Trail outlining that an environmental assessment will be performed. Notifications were distributed to 62 property owners, primarily in Prospector and part of Chatham Hills. The notifications quickly prompted displeasure in the neighborhood as people who live there raised concerns about a road corridor along the Rail Trail route.
Officials are considering road-capacity improvements meant for a transit corridor on the S.R. 248 entryway. The road regularly fails, they say. They want to add one lane in each direction for buses and carpools. Current ideas include reconfiguring the existing state highway corridor between Quinn's Junction and the S.R. 224 intersection. Another one involves creating a road corridor on the route of the Rail Trail, a popular location for hiking, bicycling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing that once was the location of a railroad line. Duditch and others are most worried about the prospects of a Rail Trail route.
Duditch said the S.R. 248 corridor, which is heavily used by people who live in parts of the Snyderville Basin, the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County, should remain as it is now, known as the no-build option. He said traffic is only heavy on S.R. 248 during the morning and afternoon rush hours during the ski season.
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"It should be nothing done," he said.
Others who live in Prospector are expected to oppose the idea of a Rail Trail route as well. The Utah Department of Transportation process is in the early stages, and the critics have months to mobilize. The state process is expected to take up to 16 months.
The mayor and City Council at the recent meeting provided an initial round of comments but did not appear to be prepared to address the issue in any depth. The elected officials mentioned topics like crafting traffic solutions that reduce the number of vehicles in Prospector, the role local officials will have during the process and the reasoning behind the inclusion of the Rail Trail as a consideration.
Steve Quinn, the Utah Department of Transportation project manager, said the Rail Trail has been mentioned as a possibility for a transit corridor. He also acknowledged the publicity has "ruffled some feathers."
The discussions stem from an earlier process, in 2009, that devised various alternatives for the corridor, including the possibility of a Rail Trail route. The Utah Department of Transportation and City Hall jointly devised the alternatives.
Information about the S.R. 248 corridor project process will be available at a City Hall-hosted open house on Wednesday, Sept. 20 outlining a variety of municipal projects. The event is scheduled from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Park City Library.