Park City mayor says UDOT has scrapped controversial S.R. 248 concept
The Utah Department of Transportation has scrapped the concept of a controversial redo of the S.R. 248 entryway, Park City Mayor Andy Beerman said during a Tuesday meeting, a decision that will be welcomed in a community that was dismayed with the idea but one that could leave commuters wondering about solutions for the backups on the state highway.
State transportation officials had outlined a preferred alternative for the entryway calling for the widening of the road between the U.S. 40 interchange and the intersection with S.R. 224 to five lanes. The 3.1-mile stretch of road currently ranges from three lanes to five lanes. The five-lane concept involved two lanes in each direction with a turning lane at most of the intersections. There would have been two left-turn lanes at the intersections with S.R. 224 and Bonanza Drive.
The Department of Transportation earlier in the year estimated the work could have cost $60 million. The work, though, was needed, transportation officials argued. A draft environmental assessment prepared in anticipation of the discussions that were held this year said S.R. 248 suffered bottleneck traffic and intersections would fail by 2040 if there are not improvements.
The idea drew broad opposition in Park City as rank-and-file Parkites and City Hall officials contended a widening of S.R. 248 would worsen the traffic situation, degrade the environment and impact the livability of the community. Others, though, saw a widening of S.R. 248 as something that was needed to address the traffic jams along the entryway that are seen as some of the worst in the Park City area. Commuters from parts of the Snyderville Basin, the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County regularly use the S.R. 248 entryway as their route in and out of Park City.
The mayor at the meeting on Tuesday indicated he and Alfred Knotts, the transportation manager at City Hall, held a meeting with the Department of Transportation earlier that day.
“Message from the entire community was received loud and clear. They have backed off any concepts involving a road widening or trying to add additional lanes,” Beerman said.
He said state transportation officials instead intend to work with City Hall on alternatives and consider other options. He said the Department of Transportation will discuss possibilities for a bus lane in the S.R. 248 median, as an example. He said a bus lane could be designed in the next several years, as a repaving of S.R. 248 is undertaken in 2021.
Beerman said an inbound bus lane would be the first, indicating statistics show the inbound traffic is the most significant challenge. An outbound bus lane, though, would require an unspecified amount of road widening and cost upward of $3.5 million in today’s dollars, he said, explaining that restriping the road in the outbound direction could accomplish many of the goals.
“It looks like it’s going to be a timely and inexpensive project. Might not solve some of our long-term challenges, but at this point, since our focus is on transit, we want to give that first shot, before we look at anything else,” the mayor said.
The City Council did not discuss the matter. More detailed talks would be expected once the Department of Transportation conducts the research into the possibilities for the entryway. It is likely additional talks would be held in coming months based on a timeline that apparently calls for at least some work in 2021.
A Department of Transportation official involved in the S.R. 248 project declined to comment about the discussions with City Hall, indicating additional information is sought from the municipal government.
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The Park City Police Department last week and early this week stopped drivers at well above the posted speed limit, was told of an erratic vehicle and received a separate complaint about a driver who may have been traveling at upward of 100 mph.