Old Town road, critical to Treasure development, will be rebuilt
Park City intends to rebuild a stretch of road that links Park City Mountain Resort and Old Town this summer, a project that is part of City Hall’s long-running street improvements in the neighborhood but one that is especially notable since the route is seen as the primary access to the Treasure development site.
The municipal government is readying to redo a section of Lowell Avenue. The project will run from the Manor Way intersection to the Empire Avenue intersection. One end is situated just off the PCMR property while the other end puts someone in Old Town, essentially at the Town Lift ski runs. The section measures approximately 2,300 feet in length. The portion of the road in the vicinity of PCMR is especially heavily traveled.
The project will entail a new road surface, the replacement of sewer lines, new water lines and new curbs and gutters. New storm drains will be installed in an effort to reduce the risk of flooding. The road surface will be narrowed slightly during the project, perhaps by between two or three feet. The work is part of City Hall’s efforts to improve neighborhood streets in Old Town. The municipal government has completed similar upgrades on other streets over the course of more than a decade of projects.
"The road is in really bad shape. It’s not going to hold up much longer," said Matt Cassel, the Park City engineer.
Cassel said it has been at least 25 years since major work was undertaken on the stretch of Lowell Avenue that will be improved in 2016.
The project is expected to start in early May, depending on the weather, and officials want to complete the work by Oct. 15. The project is anticipated to cost upward of $3.7 million, according to Cassel, with the sewer and water lines accounting for $2.5 million of the total.
Cassel said the project will require road closures during work hours. He said sections of road of up to 500 feet in length will be closed to traffic each work day. The affected sections will reopen in the evening and will be open to traffic each weekend. Cassel said the schedule calls for the crews to have moved south of the Marriott Mountainside at PCMR by the middle of June, in time for what is traditionally the busiest part of the summer tourism season at the resort.
There is a mix of full-time residences and vacation properties along Lowell Avenue between Manor Way and Empire Avenue, and the road serves as one of the transitional routes between the busyness of PCMR and the Old Town neighborhood.
Lowell Avenue is also critical to the discussions about the Treasure development, a project that is proposed for a hillside overlooking Old Town on the slopes of PCMR. The site is just off Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue. The Treasure partnership has long seen Lowell Avenue as the main route to the site.
The Treasure development is envisioned as upward of 1 million square feet of residential and commercial space along the lower route of the Town Lift. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured a broad approval for development at the Treasure site and nearby parcels of land. The family has spent more than a decade on and off seeking another City Hall approval that would allow the Treasure development itself to move forward. The land is now under the ownership of a partnership involving the Sweeney family and an investor.
Opponents of the Treasure development have stressed traffic on Lowell Avenue as one of the major concerns about the project. They have argued since early in the development talks that traffic headed to and from Treasure would overwhelm Lowell Avenue.
City Hall and the Treasure side have discussed Lowell Avenue for years. The city engineer said the prospects of development at the Treasure site will be considered as the details of the Lowell Avenue redo are finalized. According to Cassel, City Hall hired a traffic engineer last fall in preparation for the road project. The design of the roadwork will be prepared with the assumption that the Treasure site will be developed, Cassel said. He said the amount of traffic the Treasure development is projected to generate on Lowell Avenue did not require designs for a wider road.
"Not enough to make us have to build a bigger road," Cassel said about the anticipated Treasure traffic.
Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the Treasure development discussions, said Lowell Avenue has been seen as the most sensible street for accessing the project. He noted, as an example, Lowell Avenue was designed and built in the 1970s, during Park City’s skiing era, rather than the earlier silver-mining days when roads did not contemplate the traffic flows nowadays.
"We always anticipated that street to access our property," Sweeney said, adding, "Lowell was thought of as the most logical, direct street or connection to our property."
Sweeney said studies have shown a street similar in design to the stretch of Park Avenue between the Park City Library and the Town Bridge would be adequate for the Treasure traffic and other vehicles.
"What we would want is a street that the city thought was capable of handling our traffic, fully developed," Sweeney said.
Open house set
City Hall has scheduled an open house for people interested in the upcoming redo of Lowell Avenue.
The event is scheduled on Tuesday, Feb. 16 from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. in the community room at the Park City Library. The open house will provide information about the project designs and timeline. The work is scheduled to start in the spring and run until the fall.
City Hall officials and consultants hired by the municipal government are anticipated to attend the open house. There will be maps and other visuals on display. More information is available on the municipal website, http://www.parkcity.org . The direct link to information about the Lowell Avenue project is: http://www.parkcity.org/government/current-construction-projects/lowell-avenue-projects.
More information is also available by contacting Kim Clark, a City Hall consultant assisting with the project. She is reachable at 801-903-8327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Park City planning turnover is occurring amid the continuing discussions regarding a major development proposal at Park City Mountain Resort, meaning it is certain that some of the people who are expected to have a key role in a decision regarding the PCMR project will be newcomers to the long-running discussions.