Bumps in road likely as Treasure traffic remains unsettled | ParkRecord.com

Bumps in road likely as Treasure traffic remains unsettled

Main Street cabriolet, other measures expected to highlight meeting

by Jay Hamburger

The Treasure partnership wants to build a people mover known as a cabriolet between the Town Lift Plaza and the development site on a nearby hillside. The developers see a cabriolet as one of the projects key traffic-fighting strategies.

There will likely be bumps in the road on Wednesday as the sides in the discussions about the Treasure development proposal return to what has been a difficult debate about project-related traffic.

Traffic has been a crucial issue in the Treasure discussions throughout the 10-plus years it has been before the Park City Planning Commission, and the current roster of panelists has appeared even more concerned than some predecessors. The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, maintains nearby roads like Empire Avenue and Lowell Avenue can accommodate project-related traffic when coupled with other traffic-fighting measures while critics contend the traffic will overwhelm the roads.

The Planning Commission meeting scheduled on Wednesday is expected to dwell on traffic issues, including the results of a City Hall-commissioned review of a study conducted by the Treasure side. The developers have attempted to use the study to bolster their arguments about the ability of nearby roads to accommodate the traffic.

The review commissioned by the municipal government, conducted by a Tahoe City, Calif., firm called LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc., looks at traffic numbers compiled by the partnership and delves into the measures proposed by the developers to reduce traffic.

In one section of the review, the consultant from Tahoe City addresses Treasure's plans to build a people mover known as a cabriolet between the project and lower Main Street. The Treasure partnership has long seen the cabriolet as an important part of the development's transportation plan and as something that will reduce traffic between Main Street and Treasure. The project is proposed to be built on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.

The Treasure side originally anticipated the cabriolet would reduce traffic by 30 percent on Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue. The consultant finds that a reduction of 30 percent "is not unreasonable." Treasure, however, updated the numbers to show the cabriolet could account for just a 10 percent reduction instead of the 30 percent.

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The review says there is little data centered on similar cabriolets or gondolas elsewhere. LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc. points to a study of an aerial transit system serving a Ritz-Carlton property at Northstar California Resort in the Lake Tahoe region.

In that case "it is difficult to directly use this data" in the Treasure discussions, the review says, though. Still, it says just 7 percent of the gondola riders surveyed at Northstar California Resort said they would drive if the gondola was not available. Another 39 percent said they would have taken a shuttle van while 22 percent said if the gondola was not available they "would not have made the trip." The review also highlights a study of Snowmass Village, Colo., saying the 30 percent traffic reduction once forecast by Treasure "is in line" with the numbers found in Colorado.

"The proposed cabriolet is a key strategy to reduce trips and parking impacts in the Old Town area," the City Hall-commissioned review says, explaining that the people mover's operations need to extend beyond the busiest times of a day.

The review, meanwhile, addresses the road capacities on nearby streets and that capacity "on a local residential street can have different meanings to different people."

"For the traffic engineer, capacity is a measure of the total number of vehicles that can be accommodated within a specified period. However, the capacity for residents along a local street is more a matter of the appropriate maximum level of traffic noise and safety concerns," it says.

Other points in the review include:

  • employees working at Treasure should not be allowed to drive to the site during the busiest times. Encouraging the workers to use transit "is not enough," it says.
  • workers who commute on a public bus from Salt Lake City should be given free passes to the bus.
  • the operator of the lodging at Treasure "should offer a substantial credit to guests arriving without a car . . ."
  • bicycles should be provided for Treasure guests

    Park City staffers continue to research the traffic-reduction numbers. Bruce Erickson, the planning director, said more needs to be learned about the methods that will be used to achieve the reduction. He said information is desired about parking for the work force, transporting the work force to and from the cabriolet and steps that would be taken when the cabriolet is closed for maintenance. Erickson said staffers are concerned about the Treasure impact on traffic on the busiest days and the potential of intersections failing in the vicinity of the project.

    A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the meeting on Wednesday poses similar concerns as those described by the planning director. The report, as an example, says more details are needed regarding how workers will be encouraged to use the cabriolet and buses.

    The meeting on Wednesday is scheduled as the Treasure side readies to force a Planning Commission vote later in the year. The Planning Commission has spent more than a year covering issues like traffic and square footage during the current round of Treasure talks. The proposal involves approximately 1 million square feet of residences, commercial space and meeting space. It dates to an overall City Hall approval for development on the Treasure land and nearby parcels secured by the Sweeney family in the 1980s.

    Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the Treasure discussions, said the partnership agrees with some of the points in the review and disagrees with others. He said the cabriolet will be "pretty effective" in reducing traffic. Sweeney also said Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue have been seen as the routes to Treasure since the 1980s talks. Park City leaders of that era "asked us to use, said it was OK to use" Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue.

    "There's nothing there that had a major issue," he said about the City Hall-commissioned review, adding, "We think we should be able to use that road."

    The Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at the Marsac Building. A hearing is planned.