Park City releases calendar predicting the worst traffic days of the winter |

Park City releases calendar predicting the worst traffic days of the winter

The holidays, Sundance and weekends are expected to be especially bad

Outbound traffic backs up on S.R. 224 Thursday evening | David Jackson/Park Record
| David Jackson/Park Record

The traffic in Park City is expected to become especially bad in the middle of December and stay that way through much of January.

And then numerous days of bad traffic will likely follow in February and March before the lines of cars let up in April.

Those predictions, made by City Hall, likely are not a surprise to longtime Park City drivers used to the backups. They are aware the holidays are usually jammed on the roads. The Sundance Film Festival crowds arrive shortly afterward, followed by the skiers and snowboarders heading to the community during the prime months of the ski season.

The municipal government recently released a calendar that offers a guide to how bad certain days may be. It is an intriguing prediction that highlights, on a daily basis, what drivers should expect.

The calendar stretches from November until April. Over that period, there are projected to be 93 so-called peak days of traffic. Of those, 61 are labeled maximum peak days and the remainder are called peak days. A peak day is considered to be a day when the traffic exceeds the capacity of the roads while a maximum peak day accounts for even more traffic beyond the road capacity.

The maximum peak days are concentrated in December and January. Christmas is the only day between Dec. 16 and Jan. 3 that is not labeled a maximum peak day. Most of the days of Sundance, running Jan. 19 until Jan. 29, are categorized as maximum peak days. The February and March calendars show most of the maximum peak days falling on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Predictions for peak days are interspersed throughout the winter.

Days when the traffic is not expected to be at maximum peak or peak are mostly Tuesdays and Wednesdays in February and March prior to the traffic slowdown that traditionally occurs in April.

City Hall in an online posting says the calendar was crafted after reviewing four years of data. The posting also says “Traffic operations, including increased staffing and mitigation, will be implemented on these days.” City Hall in the posting encourages people to “consider traveling outside” the period between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. as well as the period between 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the days when peak traffic is projected.

Matthew Neeley, the City Hall transportation director since May, said an analysis was conducted after the 2021-2022 ski season that weighed data points like sales-tax numbers to help determine how many people were visiting on any day. Officials vetted the projections with Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort. Neeley said some adjustments were made as a result of the discussions with the resorts.

Neeley said the Park City Police Department, municipal public works and the Utah Department of Transportation, which controls the state highways that serve as Park City’s entryways, will coordinate their efforts to manage the traffic. The various parties have access to the calendar. The Police Department, as an example, could use the calendar as it deploys officers to certain intersections, he said, calling it a communication tool that can be used internally and externally.

The calendar is part of a multi-pronged plan in the community designed to combat traffic after widespread complaints during the 2021-2022 ski season. An increase in bus service, changes to municipal parking programs, a park-and-ride lot on the S.R. 248 entryway and traffic restrictions on certain neighborhood roads are also included in the overall plan.

Park City continues to struggle with traffic years after it became one of the community’s pivotal issues. The traffic during the winter is notoriously bad as skiers and commuters overwhelm the roads, resulting in daily backups on the entryways and elsewhere.​

Courtesy of Park City Municipal Corporation

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