Provo developer outlines ideas for roundabout, stoplight to manage PCMR project traffic
One intersection on the perimeter of the Park City Mountain Resort parking lots could someday have a roundabout.
At another intersection, there could eventually be a stoplight.
The possibilities were included in a set of recommendations presented to the Park City Planning Commission on Wednesday night amid the continuing discussions regarding a Provo developer’s concept for the PCMR lots. The Planning Commission held a lengthy meeting that was centered on traffic and transportation, two topics that are typically some of the most difficult during talks about major projects in Park City.
The Planning Commission and the PEG Companies side appeared to make limited progress during the Wednesday meeting, and the sides are expected to spend a significant amount of time at future meetings on the topics.
The developer’s side at the meeting provided a list of recommendations designed to reduce the impact of traffic the project is expected to generate on the streets surrounding the PCMR lots. The streets are already some of the busiest in Park City during the ski season, leaving the developer with the difficult task of crafting an overall concept to manage the traffic.
Two of the most ambitious ideas presented on Wednesday involve intersections along Silver King Drive. The recommendations call for a roundabout to be built at the intersection of Silver King Drive and Empire Avenue while a stoplight would be put at the Silver King Drive-Lowell Avenue intersection. Roundabouts are typically seen as allowing a better flow of traffic at intersections when compared to a stoplight, providing drivers an opportunity to move from road to road without the stop-go cycle of a stoplight.
The two intersections occupy crucial locations on the northern perimeter of the lots. Much of the traffic headed to and from PCMR today travels through at least one of the intersections as drivers enter and leave the lots. Many of the drivers at the two locations are headed toward or from Park Avenue and Deer Valley Drive, the two streets that carry lots of the PCMR traffic.
The developers, meanwhile, want to create a one-way loop running around the lots. The team provided an analysis that found a one-way loop would significantly reduce travel times, indicating the time would essentially be cut in half. The loop currently takes 3 minutes, 13 seconds while the loop under the one-way scenario would take 1 minute, 39 seconds. The one-way proposal runs southbound on Lowell Avenue and northbound on Empire Avenue, with Manor Way and Silver King Drive as part of the loop as well.
Some of the other recommendations outlined at the Planning Commission meeting included:
• a call for discussions among City Hall, PCMR and the Utah Department of Transportation regarding solutions for the intersection where S.R. 224, Park Avenue and Empire Avenue meet.
• a restriping of Empire Avenue so it has five lanes between the intersections with Park Avenue and Silver King Drive.
• creating a better experience for the various modes of transportation, including the bus system, ridesharing services, shuttles, personal vehicles and pedestrians.
• providing bicycle lanes on the one-way loop.
• putting crosswalks in locations described as strategic, including a raised crossing.
The recommendations also include instituting parking charges, but details are not provided. Some sort of paid-parking system has been likely since the outset of the discussions about the project. The recommendations note paid parking could “incentivize transit ridership.” Paid parking is seen as a key step that could be taken to discourage skiers and snowboarders from driving their own vehicles to the resort and as a means to nudge them to the bus system. If that were to occur, the project-related traffic that is so worrisome could be reduced. Details about a paid-parking system have not been publicized.
The Planning Commission is not bound by the recommendations.
PEG Companies and the Planning Commission are locked in talks about the proposal with the possibility of a vote in coming months. It is not clear when the Planning Commission will be ready to make a decision, but there has appeared to be the potential of a vote by the end of the year. The meeting on Wednesday, though, appeared to be especially difficult, but it is not known whether it was a precursor to further arduous discussions.
The development rights date to the 1990s, when a previous owner of PCMR secured an overall approval for a base-area project. The earlier approval included the land where Marriott’s MountainSide and the Legacy Lodge were later built. The bulk of the rights, though, are attached to the vast PCMR lots.
The rights went to Colorado-based Vail Resorts when it acquired PCMR. Vail Resorts, though, sees its focus on the operations of mountain resorts rather than development, leading to an agreement in the spring of 2019 to sell the lots to PEG Companies. The deal would not be finalized until later.
The 10-acre development proposal under consideration by the Planning Commission involves a hotel, condominiums, retailers and restaurants. Employee or otherwise affordable housing is also sought. It is expected to be one of the last major developments inside Park City with the dwindling amount of land available for large projects.
Some of the people who live or own properties in the vicinity of PCMR are closely watching the Planning Commission discussions. There is concern about the possibility of traffic increases, the size of the proposed buildings and the overall blueprints. There has been recent talk about the possibility of a coalition forming, perhaps shortly after the Planning Commission meeting that was held on Wednesday, to challenge the proposal.
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