Park City neighborhood worries of ‘Frogger’ intersection | ParkRecord.com

Park City neighborhood worries of ‘Frogger’ intersection

City Hall hesitant to support a crossing on Deer Valley Drive

Deer Valley Drive intersects with Aerie Drive just north of Main Street. Some Aerie residents want a crosswalk that would allow them to walk or bicycle across Deer Valley Drive toward the Main Street core. Park City officials, though, are worried about the safety of pedestrians or bicyclists if a crosswalk is put there.

Park City leaders recently opted against starting a process that would have been needed before a crosswalk could have been built spanning a wide, fast and busy section of Deer Valley Drive, rejecting a call for a crossing by people who live in the Aerie.

The talks about a crosswalk date in some form to early 2016, but there has appeared to be resistance at City Hall throughout the course of the discussions. There are safety concerns about a street-level crosswalk and budgetary worries about more expensive options for a crossing, such as a pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel or an overpass for pedestrians and bicyclists. A tunnel or overpass would cost into the millions of dollars.

The Park City Council at a recent meeting voted against an appeal filed by people in the Aerie that sought to overturn a staff-level decision against a crosswalk. The elected officials, though, asked staffers to seek alternatives that would provide pedestrian and bicyclist access across Deer Valley Drive from the Aerie. Someone walking or bicycling from the Aerie to Main Street, as an example, currently needs to work their way to a crossing in the vicinity of the Old Town roundabout.

The Aerie neighborhood wanted a crosswalk with a pedestrian-activated signal, similar to those on Park Avenue outside Holiday Village and Bonanza Drive close to the Rail Trail. The posted speed limit on Deer Valley Drive in the vicinity of Aerie is 40 mph. City Hall has said the Utah Department of Transportation, which controls Deer Valley Drive, discourages crosswalks in locations where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or faster. A study of pedestrian crossings in the summer determined there were fewer than 20 pedestrians and bicyclists per hour crossing that section of Deer Valley Drive. The 20 crossings per hour is a benchmark used by traffic engineers when considering a crosswalk, the municipal government says.

Carl and Liz Tippit, who live on Aerie Drive, filed the appeal in March. The three-page appeal involves 23 points covering topics like the speed limit, the pedestrian counts and pedestrian access to the Main Street core.

"City has acknowledged this Aerie/Deer Valley corner a dangerous area with history of motor vehicle accidents and a bicycle accident. Please don't wait for the inevitable fatality to dictate the need for a crosswalk and slower speeds in this area," the appeal says.

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Some of the other points, as listed in the appeal, include:

  • "Survey indicates not enough pedestrian traffic required per hour. Where does the regulation state it is a required traffic count? This seems it should be subjective. If the city is concerned about slowing traffic too often, the limited amount of pedestrian traffic is a good thing."
  • "As a resident of Aerie Drive, I would love to be able to walk to and from work in the Gateway building, but need to cross Deer Valley to do so. This adds another parking space taken away from visitors and locals."
  • "Pedestrians have been seen dodging cars, running, pushing strollers across, bolting with bikes, etc."
  • "Because there is no crosswalk, residents of Aerie are forced to drive to Main Street. We have been ticketed and towed during times when we could have walked to Main Street. This is frustrating and goes against the city's desire to lessen the amount of cars and parking on Main Street."
  • "Residents of Aerie are forced to drive across Deer Valley Drive in order to access public transportation. Why are we being cut off from the wonderful public transportation system for which Park City is known."

Carl Tippit at the recent meeting described that people "play Frogger" as they attempt to cross Deer Valley Drive. Nobody would be talking about removing a crosswalk at the location if one had been built years ago, he said.

The elected officials, though, remained unconvinced. City Councilor Cindy Matsumoto said the Aerie was not designed as a neighborhood with walking routes to Old Town and said there is not easy access to the locations on either side of Deer Valley Drive where a crosswalk would be put. The mayor added the situation is "problematic" and the Aerie would be designed differently if it was developed today.

City Hall staffers intend to return to the City Council for additional discussions about options other than a crosswalk. Discussions about Deer Valley Drive would also eventually include Utah transportation officials since the road is part of S.R. 224, a state highway. A stretch of the state highway is signed Deer Valley Drive inside Park City.