Park City tunnel project, a traffic headache, months behind schedule
A pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel under construction underneath Kearns Boulevard, already delayed and blamed for traffic headaches, is not expected to be completed for at least another month, City Hall said in a report this week, acknowledging the municipal project is months behind schedule.
The tunnel is under construction adjacent to the intersection of Kearns Boulevard and Cooke Drive. It is designed to replace a crosswalk at the location and will be the second pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel in the vicinity. The other one stretches underneath Kearns Boulevard at the Comstock Drive intersection.
City Hall in a report drafted in anticipation of a Park City Council meeting on Tuesday indicated the project was scheduled to be completed with a deadline of Aug. 30. Alfred Knotts, the transportation manager at City Hall, said in an interview the current timeline calls for substantial completion during the week of Nov. 18.
He said the project encountered a series of challenges that caused the delays. Knotts said the crews encountered unexpected utility issues once the excavation started. The report notes one of the issues involved the location of a Rocky Mountain Power line. He also said the firm tapped for the project, Stapp Construction, encountered labor shortages. Knotts added that there have been three project managers assigned to the work by the firm.
“It has been frustrating. I have never dealt with a project this delayed,” Knotts said.
The tunnel is seen as another major step in City Hall’s long-running efforts to provide safe pedestrian and bicyclist routes through the community. Providing the routes, leaders have long said, encourages people to walk or ride bicycles between destinations rather than driving. The routes reduce traffic and help the environment, officials argue.
The tunnel under construction adjacent to the intersection of Kearns Boulevard and Cooke Drive is especially important since it is along the route to the Park City School District campus. The tunnel is expected to be heavily used by students walking and bicycling to school from Prospector.
The original Aug. 30 deadline roughly coincided with the start of the school year. Traffic on Kearns Boulevard at the location of the tunnel increases substantially during the school year with vehicles headed to and from the campus. Officials wanted the construction completed by the time the school-related backups started. Instead, the construction zone coupled with the traffic to the schools has made the Kearns Boulevard corridor even more upsetting for drivers. The report to the elected officials indicates the Park City Police Department has stationed officers in the area of the work.
“Additional traffic mitigation has been ongoing on SR-248 through enforcement and traffic control from Park City Police Department,” the report says, adding that there have been restrictions on construction when special events are held.
The project was estimated to cost $3.8 million at the outset. Knotts said the actual figure will potentially rise as a result of issues that were encountered during the construction with the utilities as well as the removal of a greater amount of contaminated soils than was expected. The final figure is expected to top $4 million, the report says.
Knotts also said City Hall plans to start negotiations with Stapp Construction following the completion of the project regarding liquidated damages of $1,500 per day from the original Aug. 30 deadline.
Stapp Construction did not return a phone message seeking comment.
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