Brightly colored traffic calming in Park City lambasted in online feedback |

Brightly colored traffic calming in Park City lambasted in online feedback

Municipal government receives broad criticism for efforts at intersection in Prospector

The paint of a traffic-calming project in Prospector is beginning to fade in the months after the efforts were launched in the summer. Park City officials received broad criticism about the project.
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

Some may have looked at a City Hall-backed effort last summer designed to create an intersection in Prospector that is friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists and seen success.

The area of the Sidewinder Drive-Gold Dust Lane intersection suddenly seemed more visible with bright colors on the asphalt and planters on the sides of the road. The project, part of the municipal government’s People-First Streets program, continued the long-running work of generations of Park City leaders who have invested heavily in traffic-fighting measures like pedestrian and bicyclist improvements.

But to another person, the project resembled what someone experiences when taking a hallucinogenic drug.

“Poor execution. Watched a little boy almost get hit bc driver was confused and looking at the acid trip,” someone, identifying themselves as “Terrible Idea,” wrote as part of their input to City Hall about the project in Prospector, calling the area around the intersection “the bizarro sidewinder art traffic thing.”

City Hall staffers recently compiled the input and released the comments in a broader report to Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council centered on the People-First Streets program. The comments, mostly submitted to City Hall anonymously, provide another angle to the overall discussion about increasing pedestrian and bicyclist safety across the community.

Although there has seemed to be broad support for years among Parkites for traffic-calming measures, as well as pedestrian and bicyclist improvements, even a minor step like the work at the Sidewinder Drive-Gold Dust Lane intersection can result in heavy scrutiny.

The People-First Streets program is meant to offer Parkites an opportunity to temporarily transform an area of local road into a spot that is desirable to pedestrians and bicyclists. The project at Sidewinder Drive and Gold Dust Lane was the most notable of the three that were pursued in the summer and fall.

The project at the Prospector intersection cost a little less than $1,800, according to the recent report to the elected officials. The price tag included supplies like the paint, plants, soil and buckets. Delineator posts that marked the intersection were also included in the cost and can be used elsewhere as other projects are designed.

Officials in the report provided data culled from a radar detector starting two weeks prior to the installation and ending two weeks afterward. The number of cars each day at the location dropped slightly, from 1,206 to 1,200. The speeds also dropped slightly, from an average of 22.6 mph to an average of 22 mph. The speed at the 85th percentile was 26 mph after the project was implemented, meaning 85% of the vehicles were clocked at or below the 26 mph. The figure was 27 mph prior to the project.

“People-First Streets has shown that streets can quickly and inexpensively be transformed into places that put people first. Although the projects have been dismantled due to the seasonality of the program, the goal is to leave a lasting impact to influence design decisions when streets are permanently upgraded,” Austin Taylor, a City Hall transportation planner, said in the report to the mayor and City Council.

One of the Prospector residents who pressed for the efforts at the intersection, Deanna Rhodes, said in an interview the delineator posts created a “physical obstruction” to encourage slower speeds and said the location was a “great pilot project.” Drivers were aware of the intersection, she said.

Rhodes, who uses the crosswalk while walking to work, said certain elements that were included in the setup early on and drew the attention of critics were removed shortly after they were installed.

“The street looked nice,” she said, adding, “I feel it accomplished a lot.”

In a summary of the opinions from the public, officials said 88% of the pedestrians who provided input in person “reported feeling safer walking through the crosswalk.” The online input, though, was more than 90% in opposition.

The comments that were released by City Hall alongside those made by the person identifying themselves as “Terrible Idea” were overwhelmingly critical of the work at the intersection in Prospector. Someone called the project the “Gold dust and sidewinder fiasco” while another person labeled the work the “Prospector neighborhood street ‘Art.’” Many told City Hall the project did not make the street safer.

Some of the comments included:

• “It’s hideous. An eye sore. Trashy. Painted tires, Home Depot buckets with wilted flowers?! Making the roads narrow with cones like that is going to cause a head on car accident.”

• “The sidewinder project is horribly ugly and dangerous!!! Painting cones white . . covering up reflectors is dangerous! The color scheme is obnoxious! Painted tires and dead flowers???”

• “In Prospector, the art clogs the street and looks like junk. Its old tires with buckets. Unrefined. Not cool.”

• “It makes me dizzy and distracted. There are so many kids the same height as those poles that cross the street that blend in to the background.”

• “Cars still exist. People need to be able to get to and from work. There is already no parking. Narrowing roads does not help!!!”

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