Park City drives home plans to avoid holiday traffic jams
City Hall efforts start late this week as crowded roads anticipated
As many are planning for the holidays, Park City is planning for holiday traffic.
The stretch between Christmas and New Year’s is typically one of the busiest times of the year in Park City, and traffic is usually some of the worst during that period. Lines of vehicles head into Park City in the morning and then leave in the afternoon or early evening. Streets close to the mountain resorts like Park Avenue, Empire Avenue and Deer Valley Drive are normally clogged, and the traffic jams can extend toward Kimball Junction and Quinn’s Junction.
Park City officials have drafted plans in an attempt to ensure the traffic remains manageable even as it seems almost certain there will be backups over the next 10 days-plus regardless of the weather.
City Hall says the plans will be mobilized starting at the end of the workweek, on Thursday and Friday. They will then be put back in place from Dec. 26 until Dec. 30. The plans involve a broad range of actions meant to guard against a terrible traffic jam.
Officials will monitor traffic and the weather and disseminate information as a day unfolds. The Park City Police Department, meanwhile, will station officers at important locations during the busiest times to monitor the traffic. The officers will be positioned at the intersection of Deer Valley Drive, Park Avenue and Empire Avenue, the Bonanza Drive-Kearns Boulevard intersection, the Park Avenue-Kearns Boulevard intersection and a spot along Deer Valley Drive.
“We recognize during the load out and load in there’s still going to be delays,” said Alfred Knotts, the transportation planning manager for City Hall, suggesting drivers remain patient.
Knotts said Thursday and Friday are expected to be busy on the roads since many people will head to the mountain resorts since there are blackout dates during the holidays attached to some season passes. The period between Dec. 26 and Dec. 30, meanwhile, is traditionally busy as people celebrate Christmas at home and then head to Park City for a ski vacation. An extensive bus system operates in the Park City area, but numerous people opt to drive to the resorts in personal vehicles.
There is lingering concern about the traffic situation spiraling toward a backup similar to one in December of 2014, perhaps the worst in the city’s history. On that day, as snow fell, lines of vehicles stretched through much of the Park City area in the afternoon as skier traffic jammed the roads. There were tales of trips that normally take a few minutes taking more than an hour. Many said it was the worst traffic jam they had experienced in Park City.
Knotts said there have been steps since then to avoid a repeat. He said skiers will be allowed to park at Park City High School through Jan. 2. The lot is served by a City Hall bus and a Park City Mountain Resort shuttle. City Hall has also modified the traffic flow on two streets bordering PCMR. A stretch of Lowell Avenue and Shadow Ridge Road have been made one way to better manage traffic.
Temporary digital signs will be posted along S.R. 224 and S.R. 248. The signs will transmit messages about using transit or carpools and indicate when parking lots at the mountain resorts are full.
The Park City Chamber/Bureau reports Dec. 26 and Dec. 27 are expected to be big check-in days for the lodging industry. Occupancy is expected to remain strong through Jan. 7. Bill Malone, the president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, noted the planning efforts at City Hall to combat traffic.
Malone said the Christmas-New Year’s period is important and tourism officials do not want visitors returning home noting the traffic in Park City.
“It can become something they talk about more than we would like them to talk about,” Malone said.
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