Park City poised to relaunch controversial drop-and-load zones in Main Street core
Park City on Friday is poised to relaunch a controversial program in the Main Street core that sets aside prime stretches of curb as drop-and-load zones for drivers holding a permit sold by City Hall.
The drop-and-load zones debuted late in 2019 as officials attempted to increase safety and reduce congestion on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip. They immediately drew criticism, though, amid a slew of ongoing violations as drivers who did not have the necessary permit left vehicles in the drop-and-load zones. Some vehicles were towed while tickets or warnings were issued to many of the others.
City Hall suspended the program in March when there was a broad shutdown of business in an effort to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Officials say they are reinstating the program amid an increase in traffic in the Main Street core and with an expectation the congestion will worsen with the onset of the ski season. Fewer people are expected to ride buses or ride in carpools out of concern of the sickness, a scenario that could add to the traffic, the municipal government says.
“We are anticipating more vehicle traffic this winter due to COVID,” said Jenny Diersen, the economic development program manager at City Hall and one of the key staffers involved in the drop-and-load program.
The permits to use the drop-and-load zones are available to taxis, shuttles, lodging industry shuttles and ridesharing services. New permits cost $200 while renewals are $100 as part of City Hall’s coronavirus relief efforts.
The permits issued last winter are valid through Dec. 14. City Hall says it issued 408 of the permits by early March.
The drop-and-load zones will be in effect from 5 p.m. until 12 a.m. each day. Prior to 5 p.m., the zones are available to anyone for 15-minute parking. There will be two zones on the east side of Main Street. One stretches between the 400 and 500 blocks of the street while the other essentially covers the 700 block.
Officials also will offer three zones for dropping people off or picking them up that will not require a permit. They will be located in the Brew Pub lot at the southern end of the commercial district, in the Bob Wells Plaza spots on Swede Alley and at the trolley turnaround at 9th Street, on the northern end of Main Street.
Diersen said heavy enforcement coupled with education is planned as the program is relaunched.
Officials in October signaled they were considering reinstating the program in the middle of November based on the expected traffic increases for the ski season. There had been an uptick in traffic in the Main Street core by then, influencing the decision.
The program immediately drew criticism from a range of people when it was introduced in December. The violations quickly mounted and vehicles without permits were towed from the drop-and-load zones in clear view of the Main Street crowds.
The Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents the interests of businesses in the Main Street core, acknowledged the program reduced congestion while it was in place last winter.
Alison Kuhlow, the executive director of the organization, said backups were reduced as a result of the program. It took people “less time to drive up and down Main Street,” she said. The lodging and transportation industries support the reintroduction of the drop-and-load zones, she said. Kuhlow described one of the benefits of the program by saying people with dinner reservations along Main Street can more easily get to the restaurants with the drop-and-load zones.
“Keeping traffic flowing on Main Street does help the businesses,” she said.
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