Park City roadwork ‘depressing, demoralizing’ as business tanks
July 28, 2018
Houman Gohary, the owner of Good Karma Restaurant on Prospector Avenue, midday on Thursday looked out at a dining room with just a few diners, what would typically be considered a slow start to the lunch rush.
But the restaurant in recent weeks has suffered through a tepid stretch as City Hall continues major roadwork on Prospector Avenue, a project that has involved a significant reworking of the traffic flow in addition to the typical impacts of street improvements. There was concern about business impacts as the project details were crafted, but it was not clear whether steps taken as part of the work that are meant to guard against interruptions in commerce would be successful.
The Good Karma Restaurant has experienced a dramatic drop in sales in the nearly three weeks since the work launched. At 11:30 a.m. on a normal Thursday, Gohary said, there would be at least 30 people at the restaurant. There could be just two or three at that time on a Thursday as the work continues on Prospector Avenue, he said.
The dust from the construction zone settles on customer vehicles, and there was a smell he described as "gross" in the parking lot during some of the work on the sewers. The traffic difficulties are also a problem as it takes longer for people to reach the restaurant.
"It's depressing, demoralizing," Gohary said about the situation along Prospector Avenue. "Everybody, I have to say 'Sorry' to them. It's beyond my control."
Gohary said business has dropped by 75 percent since the roadwork started. Servers are not bringing in the tips they normally would. He reduced hours, closing on Mondays and Tuesdays, starting with the privately funded upgrades to the Prospector Square district and then extending the closures for the City Hall roadwork.
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"I cannot have seven days of misery. Five is enough," he said.
Other businesses on Thursday declined to discuss the impacts of the roadwork on sales. It appeared some of the businesses along the Prospector Avenue corridor midday on Thursday had groups of customers, but it was not clear whether the numbers were typical for that time of day. There are also numerous offices along Prospector Avenue that would not be expected to suffer as dramatically since they typically do not rely on walk-in customers to the same extent as shops and restaurants.
The roadwork, projected to cost a little less than $2 million, includes milling the road asphalt and putting down a new layer of asphalt. It also includes new bus pullouts, lighting and sidewalk improvements, making the project more ambitious in scope than a standard resurfacing like those done in neighborhoods annually. Supporters of the work say the project is needed as the Prospector business district attempts to compete with other commercial areas of Park City. They also say Prospector Avenue, a key route to and from the Prospector neighborhood, will function better as a result of the work.
The work is expected to be completed by late October. Corey Legge, the City Hall staff engineer assigned to the project, said on Thursday there have not been serious delays. He said the crews in the past week continued installing conduit for streetlights and excavators removed the sidewalk concrete on the north side of Prospector Avenue. He said the schedule calls for concrete pours on the north side of the road next week.
City Hall and the project team opted for an operational plan involving turning Prospector Avenue into a one-way route through the work zone for the duration of the project. The traffic flow on Prospector Avenue is one way in the westbound direction, allowing the workers access to one side of the roadway. The road will remain one way westbound throughout the work. The crews will switch sides in late August, though. The one-way route has made it more difficult to access the Prospector commercial core, particularly with a prohibition of turns from Bonanza Drive onto Prospector Avenue.
Legge said the crews have ensured there is at least one driveway open at all times providing access to the commercial parking lots along Prospector Avenue. Businesses have done "pretty well" through the opening weeks of the roadwork, he said.
At Good Karma Restaurant, the owner Gohary would have preferred the work occur in April and May, a slow time for business in Park City rather than "when it's high season." Some of the restaurant's regular customers have navigated their way through the roadwork zone, but their visits have dropped, he said.
"Business is almost nonexistent. Nobody's going to come in for 45 minutes, one-hour lunch break," he said, adding, "Who wants to come and get their car dusty?"