Park City leaders consider decision about two-way traffic on beloved street
There is an effort to alter longtime driving restriction on upper Park Avenue in the winter
There was no way, it seemed, Park City leaders would be prepared at a recent meeting to make a decision about a two-way street.
Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council discussed the concept of allowing both northbound and southbound traffic on the upper reaches of Park Avenue this winter. Northbound traffic, which is the downhill direction, is traditionally only permitted on that section of Park Avenue during the winter. They were not prepared to make a decision, though.
City Hall received a request from people who live on Park Avenue to consider dropping the one-way restriction in the winter and staffers brought the concept to the elected officials. The request involves the section of Park Avenue between the intersections with Heber Avenue and King Road.
The stretch of Park Avenue under discussion is widely considered to be one of Old Town’s most beloved streets, but there have also been long-running concerns there about traffic spilling over from nearby Main Street. The one-way restriction blocks drivers on lower Park Avenue from easily accessing upper Park Avenue, but it also forces people who live on the section south of Heber Avenue to navigate through other streets like Main Street, Swede Alley or Woodside Avenue to reach their properties. The one-way restriction has existed in the winter for decades.
An alteration from the one-way restriction to an allowance of traffic in both directions would be one of the most notable changes in traffic patterns in Old Town in years. Such a move would provide convenience for people who live toward the Heber Avenue intersection since they would not be required to drive around Park Avenue to access the street, but it could also open another route to the Main Street core for commercial traffic like taxis, shuttles and ride-sharing services.
There would also likely be concern along upper Park Avenue about the safety of two-way traffic in the winter, when snow effectively narrows the width of roads. Other streets in Old Town, similarly narrow, though, operate with two-way traffic on a year-round basis, supporters of the alteration could argue.
A change to the traffic pattern on upper Park Avenue could also impact the intersections with 4th Street and 5th Street since certain turns would be allowed at those locations under a two-way scenario that are currently prohibited.
The elected officials received split input. One of the arguments for the alteration centered on the environmental impact of the one-way restriction since additional driving is needed to reach some of the addresses on upper Park Avenue. That argument holds that a two-way street would provide direct access. An argument against the idea focused on safety concerns with the snow. There was also a question about whether enough data had been collected.
People on Park Avenue are divided between supporters and opponents, a survey conducted by City Hall and provided to the elected officials as part of the meeting materials indicates.
The elected officials delayed more discussions about the concept, but it was not clear when the talks would restart. They wanted staffers to conduct additional outreach and further consider whether changes would be needed to the operations of 4th Street and 5th Street if upper Park Avenue becomes a two-way road.
It was not clear when staffers will return with the results of the outreach and more details about the operations of the roads. If another discussion is delayed until January, a new mayor and at least two new members of the City Council would be seated.
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The Park City Council will soon be short one member and Parkites will have an opportunity to take the seat with no campaign required. Officials on Tuesday are scheduled to hold an event designed for people who are considering submitting their name as a candidate for the appointment.