Treasure developers plan to count cars on busy Park City ski day
The numbers tallied on Saturday will be crucial in long-running talks
The Treasure partnership on Saturday afternoon will be counting cars at some high-traffic intersections in Park City on what is anticipated to be one of the busiest days of the ski season, a crucial step as the discussions continue about the disputed project.
The traffic study that is planned on Saturday will provide numbers as the partnership continues its discussions with the Park City Planning Commission about the project. The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm known as Park City II, LLC, is seeking an approval for approximately 1 million square feet of development on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. It is a highly controversial proposal with the opposition citing deep-rooted concerns about traffic as one of the key problems with Treasure.
The study is planned on the Saturday of the three-day Presidents Day weekend. The weekend is usually one of the busiest of the year as vacationers take advantage of a holiday during the heart of the ski season. The Saturday of the three-day weekend is usually especially busy.
Treasure consultants will gather the numbers from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m., as traffic is leaving Park City Mountain Resort. Data will be compiled from eight intersections and, possibly, several cross streets. The intersection counts will be taken at three locations along Lowell Avenue and three locations along Empire Avenue as well as two nearby corners. Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue are seen as the primary routes to Treasure, and much of the opposition to the project comes from people who live on those streets or have property there.
The intersections that will be studied on Saturday are:
- Lowell Avenue and Manor Way
- Lowell Avenue and Shadow Ridge Road
- Lowell Avenue and North Star Drive
- Empire Avenue and Shadow Ridge Road
- Empire Avenue and Manor Way
- Empire Avenue and Crescent Tram
- Park Avenue and Deer Valley Drive
- Deer Valley Drive and Silver King DriveThe study will be the second one looking at the numbers at the locations during Presidents Day weekend. The numbers were last compiled more than a decade ago, during an earlier phase of the Treasure discussions that did not advance. The study on Saturday will provide current figures for the sides to consider as they weigh Treasure. There have been repeated calls for the partnership to conduct a study that would provide updated numbers.“That Saturday is the busiest day of the year, historically. That’s the whole point,” said Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the Treasure discussions.
The Treasure side anticipates the numbers will be compiled in time for a Planning Commission meeting in April. He predicted the numbers will show the projected Treasure traffic will not dramatically impact the service level of the roads. Sweeney, though, acknowledged that the study will show there are issues at some of the locations that have been long been problematic since they carry traffic toward or from existing destinations.
“I’m confident that the level of service will not change significantly,” Sweeney said, adding, “The times we get backed up, what I’m confident is we aren’t responsible for the lion’s share.”
Sweeney, meanwhile, noted the project will be designed with a series of physical improvements and operational modifications meant to reduce traffic. They include restricting Treasure traffic from parking on public streets, a people mover known as a cabriolet that will connect Treasure and the base of the Town Lift, staircases connecting Treasure with Main Street and upgrading Park City Mountain Resort ski runs that access the site with beginner terrain.
The Planning Commission recently delayed a detailed discussion about Treasure-related traffic as the panel awaits the result of the study. Planning Commissioners have seemed skeptical of Treasure in recent months, but the numbers that will be compiled on Saturday will provide statistics they have wanted for some time. There has been criticism that the numbers gathered in the earlier studies no longer are valid given the growth of the past 10-plus years.
“We all have our opinions of what’s happened to traffic . . . We all feel traffic has increased significantly. The question is how much,” Sweeney said.
The Planning Commission is expected to pore over the study as a part of its review of the project. The numbers could embolden the Treasure opposition if they show a sharp increase in traffic over the years. But they could also provide credence to the Treasure side if the increases in traffic are not as pronounced as some anticipate.
Adam Strachan, the chairman of the Planning Commission, said the study results will be “important moving forward, very.” He said the numbers will assist the panel as the discussions continue, but they will not “provide the full picture” of the impacts of traffic on the neighborhood. Strachan said the count at the intersection of Park Avenue and Deer Valley Drive will be of particular interest to him. Strachan said he does not want the study’s conclusion to find that there has been no “substantial change” since the earlier count.
“I want to know if there’s any change at all,” he said.
The Treasure opposition is also awaiting the results of the study. The opposition, led by a group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, has argued for years that project-related traffic will overwhelm nearby roads like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue.
Kyra Parkhurst, who lives on Empire Avenue and is a member of the opposition group, questioned whether the traffic study will result in a proper count, saying it will not account for construction vehicles that will be headed to the Treasure site. She said pedestrian counts should also be taken. She said the “roads are backed up” nowadays without the added Treasure traffic. She anticipates “massive congestion” if Treasure is developed as proposed.
“There’s no room for it. It’s like a funnel,” she said about the traffic situation, adding, “It all works good, in a computer input.”
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The Park City Police Department last week received at least two reports involving cases of different natures at construction locations. In one of the cases, the police were told 1,000 construction workers had left vehicles on the street.