Sundance traffic: a trick, a treat and fireworks |

Sundance traffic: a trick, a treat and fireworks

Park City may test pass system during busy days in 2017

There could be more fireworks than usual on the 4th of July in Park City.

And City Hall on Halloween may have a trick for people who do not live in Old Town or a treat for those who do.

Park City leaders on Thursday evening continued a difficult discussion about the heavy traffic in Old Town during the Sundance Film Festival, held annually in January. There has been talk in the nearly two months since the 2017 edition of the festival ended about instituting some sort of restrictions on traffic in the tightly packed neighborhood during Sundance.

Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council have indicated they are interested in exploring possibilities for restrictions as soon as the 2018 festival. The details, though, have not been decided. It seems that City Hall could adopt an access-pass system similar to the one that has been used for years to stop outsiders from driving into Old Town during the annual summertime Park City Kimball Arts Festival.

The elected officials on Wednesday did not order an access-pass system be created for Sundance, but the discussions will continue. City Hall staffers afterward indicated they could arrange for tests of an access-pass system during events later in 2017. The system could then be evaluated as decisions are made later in the year about Sundance.

Alfred Knotts, the transportation planning manager for City Hall, said in an interview afterward officials are considering testing an access-pass system on days of heavy traffic like Independence Day, Miners Day and Halloween. Each of the days draws large crowds to Park City with festivities centered on Main Street. He said there could be traffic restrictions on those days in Old Town south of Deer Valley Drive.

Knotts said staffers anticipate returning to the mayor and City Council during a meeting in April for a detailed discussion about managing traffic during special events. It seems that the elected officials at that time will be prepared to decide whether to press ahead with testing an access-pass system.

It is not clear, though, when a decision will be made about instituting such a system for Sundance itself. If a decision is not made until after Halloween, there would be just two months or so before the festival opens to finalize the details and distribute the access passes.

The discussions about an access-pass system have unfolded in the less than two months since the festival ended. They were spurred by complaints that traffic in Old Town during Sundance was worse than it is usually.

The City Councilors were supportive of measures that would reduce traffic during Sundance, but they did not hold a detailed discussion about an access-pass system. City Councilor Tim Henney said he favors an aggressive program that is “transit centric, not car centric.” Cindy Matsumoto, another City Councilor, agreed that an aggressive move is desired to reduce traffic in neighborhoods.

The elected officials will need to address the impact of any access-pass restrictions on transportation companies, which have a heavy presence on Main Street and nearby streets during Sundance. The City Council took comments from the transportation industry on Thursday addressing issues like dropping people with luggage off and picking them up.

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