Park City traffic angers people on tiny Old Town street
Park City officials on Thursday considered the future of a small but strategically located street in Old Town, opting to hold more talks later after a discussion with added tension following a confrontation between a driver and a person who lives on the street just days earlier.
Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council addressed Hillside Avenue, which connects the upper section of Main Street and Marsac Avenue. There are a few residences along Hillside Avenue, but drivers seeking an exit from the Main Street core frequently use the street as an alternative to Main Street itself or Swede Alley. Private vehicles as well as transportation firms and delivery companies use the street. The people who live on Hillside Avenue as well as some residents of nearby streets like Daly Avenue are displeased with the traffic situation.
The meeting on Thursday was held a little more than a week after a confrontation on Hillside Avenue involving a pedestrian and a driver. The pedestrian involved in the incident on Hillside Avenue attended the meeting on Thursday, addressing the elected officials. Peter Marth has lived on the street for 30 years and recounted the confrontation in his comments to the mayor and City Council.
“Yes, I’m angry. I have good reason to be,” Marth said as his comments spanned the three decades he has lived on Hillside Avenue.
Marth said he was talking to a friend who was with a grandson at the bottom of his steps at the time of the incident. There were cars at the top and bottom of Hillside Avenue when a shuttle started up the street from Main Street, he said, describing that the shuttle accelerated as it climbed Hillside Avenue. The vehicle barely missed the three people, he said.
“I was so angry. I went after the shuttle driver,” Marth said, acknowledging that he “snapped.”
Marth, meanwhile, said drivers over the years have honked at him as he walks on Hillside Avenue and have nearly hit him. He said the amount of commercial traffic and traffic by passenger vehicles has increased over time.
Others who live close to Hillside Avenue also spoke to the elected officials, saying the road is used as a primary access to Main Street and relating what they consider to be a dangerous situation for pedestrians.
A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday, though, said commercial traffic, including shuttles, accounts for just a little more than 6 percent of the traffic, less than the 10 percent that is typical on a street. The report, written by City Engineer Matt Cassel, says a ban on commercial vehicles and shuttles would not “have any significant impact to reducing current trips” and could increase the costs to City Hall through enforcement. The report also broaches the possibility of building a road bulb-out nearby that could deter traffic by moving drivers toward Swede Alley instead of Hillside Avenue. There is currently signage that prohibits trucks on Hillside Avenue, but the restriction is regularly ignored.
The mayor and City Council want a task force to recommend traffic-calming options for Hillside Avenue and impacts on nearby streets. The task force will include residents, the transportation industry and others, including the lodging industry. The elected officials could discuss the topic again in May.
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The Park City Council primary election is slated for Aug. 13, but the ballots in the vote-by-mail contest were scheduled to be sent on Tuesday. The Summit County Clerk’s Office anticipates the ballots will arrive in mailboxes and post-office boxes on Friday or Saturday.