Park City outlines dramatic ideas to manage Sundance traffic in Old Town |

Park City outlines dramatic ideas to manage Sundance traffic in Old Town

Park City officials have crafted a variety of measures over the years to discourage traffic on residential streets in Old Town during the Sundance Film Festival. Officials in 2018 posted a sign close to the Park City Library as part of the overall traffic-fighting plans.
Park Record file photo

City Hall on Monday outlined a dramatic set of ideas to manage traffic during the Sundance Film Festival in January, including turning a stretch of busy Park Avenue into a one-way street, making a tiny but strategically located street into a one-way road and restricting turns at certain locations.

The measures are essentially designed to lessen the impact of the crush of cars that arrives in Old Town during Sundance annually. The worries about traffic and parking problems have seemed to steadily increase in recent years as Sundance has enjoyed a string of strong festivals. Traffic is at many times terrible across Park City during Sundance, particularly over the jammed opening weekend, but the backups and parking problems are especially pronounced in tightly packed Old Town.

People who live in Old Town argue residential streets cannot accommodate the lines of vehicles headed to or from Main Street while there are also normally parking complaints in the neighborhood alongside those centered on traffic. The ideas Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council were presented will be among the most aggressive staffers have crafted over the years of talks about Sundance.

In one particularly aggressive proposal, staffers recommend Park Avenue be turned into a one-way road in the northbound, or outbound, direction. Transit buses, though, would be allowed to travel in both directions. Municipal staffers are continuing to consider access options to Park Avenue for residents.

In a report drafted in anticipation of a meeting on Thursday, staffers indicate City Hall would work with Sundance organizers and festival sponsors to provide access to festival venues on the impacted stretch of Park Avenue. The report also notes more analysis is required into the effects on the Park Avenue-Deer Valley Drive intersection, one of the busiest intersections in the city.

The report also notes the possibility of a greater police presence at certain intersections like Park Avenue and 9th Street if the stretch of road becomes a one-way route.

The other one-way possibilities include:

• eastbound only between Park Avenue and Main Street on 4th Street and 5th Street, which is the direction toward Main Street. City Hall says such a change would “further deter traffic from Main Street turning into the residential district.”

• westbound only on Hillside Avenue, which is the direction toward Main Street, an alteration that would remove one option for drivers headed out of the Main Street core. Hillside Avenue is a tiny street with just a few residences, but it has received significant attention amid the broad discussions about Old Town traffic since it is heavily used by commercial traffic such as taxis, shuttles and ridesharing firms.

Park City officials, meanwhile, are also considering options that would further emphasize the bus system. The buses are packed during much of Sundance, but leaders would like even more people to ride them as an alternative to personal vehicles. The report says City Hall has started talks with the Utah Department of Transportation about creating a bus lane during Sundance, weather permitting. Park City could also restrict parking on one side of Park Avenue and design Swede Alley to act as a transportation hub for bus riders, ridesharing firms and taxis.

The report indicates staffers are evaluating options for the flagpole parking lot toward the northern end of Swede Alley and considering altering the pricing structure of China Bridge garage parking during Sundance.

“While this report focuses on future operations during the Sundance Film Festival, the need for increased event management is not solely a symptom of the Festival. More common than not, related impacts are actually the result of third party activities, ambush events, and other operations well outside the control of Sundance,” the report, drafted by Jenny Diersen, the special event and economic development program manager at City Hall, said.

The City Council meeting on Thursday is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the Marsac Building. City Hall is currently gathering input about the ideas.

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