Park City road reopens, and customers roll in for lobster
Park City seafood lovers can easily roll into Freshies Lobster Co. on Prospector Avenue after months of difficult driving on the road.
City Hall-hired roadwork crews on Saturday evening reopened Prospector Avenue in both directions, marking an important milestone in the redo of a major route into and out of the Prospector commercial district and the neighborhood.
The reopening of the road immediately helped Freshies Lobster Co. after the months of detours, one-way travel, heavy machinery, dirt and dust.
“Now we actually have a decent influx of people,” James Paul, the manager at the restaurant, said on Monday afternoon. “It was a lot to deal with. I had to explain the detour.”
Paul said the restaurant suffered a dip in business during the roadwork, forcing a reduction in hours for the workers. The windows were dirty for a few weeks from the dust and, at one point, he said, there was “cement, literally, on the window.”
Other businesses in the vicinity of the roadwork zone told of similar sales drops at the outset of the work in July. The sales did not appear to recover for some of the impacted businesses as the work continued, and the reopening of Prospector Avenue will be expected to provide a boost at the start of the holiday shopping season and the ski season.
City Hall opted to restrict Prospector Avenue to one-way traffic in the westbound direction in an effort to expedite the work and provide a safer environment for the work crews and others. Officials contended another option — segments of partial road closures — would have been tougher on the traffic flow and businesses. The impacts on business were expected at the start of the work, prompting a campaign to boost sales that had mixed results.
“It’s a relief to have traffic open in both directions,” said Corey Legge, the staff engineer at City Hall who oversaw the work on Prospector Avenue.
The project, which will be completed on budget at $2 million, involved a significant redo of Prospector Avenue with a new road surface, three new pull-outs for buses, new lights and widened sidewalks. The redone sidewalk on the north side of the road is approximately 8 feet wide, about double the width of the one it replaced. The sidewalk on the south side is approximately 5 ½ feet wide, slightly wider than the one there before. The work also included the so-called “sharrows,” which are parts of the road that are shared by drivers and bicyclists.
Legge said the work on the overall project continues even as two-way traffic returns. More concrete needs to be poured on the sidewalk, primarily on the south side, and the lighting connections need to be finished. Topsoil needs to be put on strips between the sidewalks and curbs. Landscaping is scheduled to be installed in the spring.
The improvements are part of City Hall’s long-running efforts to provide routes for pedestrians and bicyclists. Leaders say offering pedestrian and bicyclist upgrades like widened sidewalks and sharrows reduce traffic and provide environmental benefits since they are seen as incentives for people who want to use alternative means of transportation to navigate through Park City.
A business group centered in Prospector Square pressed for the improvements to Prospector Avenue as part of a broader upgrade effort in the district, including privately funded work on the interior of the district. The City Hall work and the privately funded improvements are underway as Prospector Square attempts to position itself as an alternative to other shopping, dining and entertainment districts after decades of serving more utilitarian purposes.
At Freshies Lobster Co., the manager, Paul, said people walking or driving by see the restaurant is crowded since the road was reopened. In one especially strong hour since the reopening of Prospector Avenue, the restaurant rang up $1,300 in sales, he said, describing that hour as “super good.”
“Now it’s going to be awesome,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot busier.”
The Christian Center of Park City had a makeover last year, and its boutique felt it was time for one, too.