Sundance traffic described as ‘hellacious’ |

Sundance traffic described as ‘hellacious’

Events panel holds broad discussion about festival

A road closure on lower Main Street during the Sundance Film Festival impacted traffic flow in Old Town. The closure allowed the Festival Village sponsor setup to occupy that stretch of road. A City Hall events panel on Wednesday heard that the Festival Village impacted sales at a nearby business.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

A member of a City Hall panel centered on Park City’s busy event calendar on Wednesday offered a blunt assessment of traffic in Old Town during the Sundance Film Festival in January.

“Hellacious,” Maria McNulty said during a meeting of the Special Events Advisory Committee at the Park City Library.

McNulty is a citizen representative on the Special Events Advisory Committee who lives in Old Town. She made her comments during a scattered discussion about Sundance, the largest event of the year in Park City by a wide margin. The Special Events Advisory Committee addressed the challenges Sundance presents and the successes of the festival. The panelists were not prepared to make formal recommendations about the Sundance operations, but it is likely they will discuss the festival again later.

In brief comments, McNulty also said transportation companies contributed to the problems.

The discussion about Sundance touched on numerous topics, but the Special Events Advisory Committee members did not spend extensive time on them. The committee, it seems, could address individual topics related to Sundance at later meetings.

The talk about traffic, though, was likely a preview of upcoming discussions that could be held by both the Special Events Advisory Committee and the Park City Council. There were widespread complaints that traffic during the festival in 2017 was worse than many other years.

Mellie Owen, a citizen representative who lives in Old Town, mentioned City Hall could consider an access-pass system during Sundance. That idea was recently broached by a member of the City Council, apparently prompting the comment by Owen.

The meeting, meanwhile, also included a brief talk about a Sundance venue that debuted in January, known as the Cinetransformer. It was a small theater within a truck that was positioned on 5th Street, on the north side of the Main Street post office. The Cinetransformer required the closure of that section of 5th Street to traffic. Some of the parking for the post office was closed as a result of the 5th Street shutdown.

Cheryl Fox, a citizen representative who lives in Park Meadows, said the Cinetransformer made it difficult for someone to get mail if they were driving to the post office.

“If you can’t walk to the P.O. box, you’re kind of stuck,” Fox said.

Sarah Klingenstein, a Park Meadows resident who is a citizen representative, said she heard a similar complaint.

Jason Glidden, the economic development program manager for City Hall, though, noted there were parking spaces set aside nearby for people headed to the post office.

Some of the other issues mentioned during the meeting included an observation that some drivers went the wrong way on Kearns Boulevard, there was a lack of snow removal at the Sandridge lot and some festival-goers disembarked buses close to the Park City Library and walked to Main Street when the buses were stuck in traffic.

The Special Events Advisory Committee also received testimony from a representative of Old Town Cellars, a winery and wine bar located along lower Main Street. Old Town Cellars was one of the businesses impacted by the closure of lower Main Street to traffic in favor of a Sundance sponsor area known as the Festival Village. Stephen MacKay, the co-founder of Old Town Cellars, said sales dropped 50 percent during Sundance as compared to the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which is another busy stretch for Park City’s tourism industry.

The panel did not speak about the Festival Village impacts in any depth. It is one of the topics that is expected to be discussed in more detail later.

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