Park City official worries runaway trucks will eventually kill people
A member of the Park City Council expressed concern at a recent meeting about the results of a safety-inspection sting targeting trucks on Marsac Avenue, indicating it was surprising that so many of the vehicles were ordered out of service as a result of violations.
City Councilor Steve Joyce made the comments after attending the Nov. 21 operation as an observer. Mayor Andy Beerman and the City Council were not scheduled to address the issue in any depth at the meeting, but Joyce’s comments were noteworthy nonetheless as City Hall and law enforcement continue the decades-long efforts to ensure the safety of trucks operating within the municipality.
Law enforcement during the Nov. 21 sting stopped 16 vehicles between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., ordering six of them out of service.
The vehicles were stopped after police officers observed violations such as driving with uncovered loads and failing to stop at a brake checkpoint on Marsac Avenue. The drivers were ordered to the parking lot outside Park City High School for inspections. The Police Department said afterward a combined 58 violations were found on the trucks.
“I am still stunned at how many they pulled off and pulled out of service, and not for like little minor things. It was like your brakes don’t function correctly, the emergency releases on the brakes don’t function. You’re 13,000 pounds over weight,” Joyce said.
He said the state has four people assigned to a four-county region for operations like the one on Nov. 21. Joyce said the four are stretched so thin they can accomplish a limited amount. He said the ratio of trucks that were taken out of service was high.
“We wouldn’t accept that from anything. And, yet, everybody kind of knows it,” he said about the safety of trucks operating in Park City.
Truck safety has long been a concern in Park City, particularly on the steep stretch of Marsac Avenue between upper Deer Valley and Old Town. There has been a series of runaway-truck cases over the decades on Marsac Avenue, prompting safety measures such as the construction of a runaway-truck ramp as well as the stings like the one recently held. Marsac Avenue is part of the state highway system, where it is posted as S.R. 224, and the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Department of Transportation have key roles in the operations and enforcement of the road.
Park City Manager Diane Foster said the Police Department conducts enforcement at times when there are not state resources assigned to Marsac Avenue.
The recent sting was held less than two months after a serious accident involving a runaway dump truck on Marsac Avenue. The truck nearly hit a bus and another vehicle before overturning close to the Old Town roundabout and hitting a pickup truck. The accident sent two people to the hospital.
Joyce addressed the September accident in his comments at the recent City Council meeting.
“If you just imagine that bus that just barely got missed — if that had been a Sundance bus full of people when that truck came down through there. I think we owe it to at least nag our state Legislature to recognize the problem and maybe step up the amount of money that they put into enforcement,” he said.
Joyce continued his comments with a dire warning as he noted what he sees as a high percentage of trucks that were removed from service during the recent operation.
“It’s the fact that as long as you can keep getting 20 percent, you have a fundamental problem that’s going to result in a bunch of people dying. And so I don’t know what the right step is. But we shouldn’t just let this go and go, ‘We’re all busy working on it.’ I think Park City’s doing more than any other small town in the state. … The state’s doing nothing. It’s scary. It’s gonna kill a bunch of people,” Joyce said.
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Each of the Park City area’s state legislators have a lot more than just ski resorts and restaurants on their mind – try roads, natural gas and a state university as well.