Treasure critics nick traffic study as ‘inherently unreliable’ | ParkRecord.com

Treasure critics nick traffic study as ‘inherently unreliable’

Group skeptical of the numbers, but developer says ‘hogwash’

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

The Treasure development partnership conducted a traffic study in February at key intersections expected to be impacted by the project. A consultant hired by a Treasure opposition group has issued a report skeptical of the studys findings.

A consultant retained by the Treasure opposition group has drafted a report that is highly skeptical of the results of a key traffic study conducted by the developer, something that was expected but adds more tension to the discussions as the sides prepare for an important meeting on Wednesday.

The Treasure partnership conducted a study of traffic numbers at intersections close to the site on the Saturday over Presidents Day weekend. The Treasure side in May issued a report indicating the roads can adequately carry the traffic in combination with steps the developer intends to take in an effort to reduce the number of drivers headed to and from the project. The Treasure acreage is located on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. It is off roads like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue.

The Treasure opposition, led by a group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, was suspicious of the findings of the partnership's report. The group commissioned a third party, Taylorsville-based Avenue Consultants, to review the report. The Avenue Consultants' review raises numerous issues.

One of the crucial concerns raised in the review centers on the circumstances of Presidents Day. It says the weather that day was "abnormally warm and rainy, resulting in less than ideal skiing conditions and therefore less than normal traffic volumes." It also says the day was a blackout date for people holding a popular season pass sold by Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts meant for those who live in or close to mountain resorts. The blackout date for the Epic Local Pass holders would "result in artificially low traffic volumes" and make it impossible to compare the traffic numbers to those found in earlier studies prior to Vail Resorts' ownership of PCMR, the report says.

The review, meanwhile, argues state transportation counts on S.R. 224 close to Canyons Resort Drive on the day of the study were lower than any Saturday in February. It claims the numbers in the morning need to be upped by 18 percent to match the Saturday average in February and the afternoon numbers need to be raised by 5 percent.

"Given that all of the analyses in the study build on the existing volumes, most of the conclusions drawn by the study are inherently unreliable," the review says.

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The review, meanwhile, covers a series of other topics raising concerns about the Treasure partnership's traffic study. The review says the study does not account for traffic that would be anticipated from development that is anticipated at the PCMR base area and on nearby land. Those numbers "should be calculated and explicitly added to all study intersections," the review says. It also say the numbers should assume full occupancy at the lodging proposed at Treasure.

The consultant addresses the Treasure side's plans to reduce the number of vehicles headed to and from the project, such as the construction of a people mover known as a cabriolet linking the Town Lift Plaza and Treasure. The review contends a cabriolet would not be as effective in reducing traffic as the partnership forecasts. The review says the study should have addressed traffic projections on Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue, which are largely residential streets close to the Treasure land.

"Understanding these quality of life impacts along the Lowell and Empire corridors would be valuable for a complete understanding of the impact of the Treasure Hill project on the surrounding historic neighborhoods," the review says.

The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, wants the Park City Planning Commission to approve a development entailing upward of 1 million square feet. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured an overall approval for development on the Treasure land and nearby parcels and another permit must be secured before the project can move forward.

The discussions about Treasure started more than a decade ago with several starts and stops in the intervening years. The partnership wants a vote this year. Traffic has been a difficult point throughout the years of talks as people who live nearby claim cars headed to and from the project would overwhelm the roads while the partnership argues the roads are adequate when taking into account other measures like a people mover.

Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the Treasure discussions, criticized the opposition's review of the developer's traffic study. He acknowledged there is "no perfect solution" to traffic issues.

"At some point in time, you've got to get back to the basics. We all share traffic – our own traffic, other people's traffic," he said, adding, "That doesn't translate into the Sweeneys don't get to use their property."

A solution must "work for everybody equally," he said. Sweeney said the review on behalf of the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition is "nonsense."

"They're just coming up with hogwash to promote that agenda," Sweeney said, describing the coalition's motivation as "they own their property and they own our property, too."

The Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. at the Marsac Building. A hearing is planned.