Quinn’s Junction park-and-ride could happen next summer
Drivers sitting in rush hour traffic around Park City might think to themselves the problem is worse than they’ve ever seen it.
And they’d be right: Park City’s transportation manager told the Summit County Council last week that traffic on S.R. 248 is increasing 6 to 8 percent annually as new developments continue to break ground and commuters are increasingly forced to look farther afield to find housing.
Elected officials have long said mass transit is the key to mitigating traffic problems.
The County Council heard about a new idea that may help take vehicles off the road at last Wednesday’s meeting — a proposed $3.7 million park-and-ride at Quinn’s Junction between U.S. 40 and the Old Highway 40 frontage road north of S.R. 248.
Construction on the proposed 550-spot parking lot could begin as early as next summer said Alfred Knotts, Park City’s transportation manager. It would feature frequent bus connection to Park City.
The proposed site is about a mile away from the Richardson Flat park-and-ride, which Knotts said is “fully underutilized.” Most of the 750 spots at Richardson Flat are often empty, and the team that evaluated potential spots for a new park-and-ride ranked it below another parcel that contains a detention pond.
Knotts and Park City associate transportation planner Alexis Verson worked with Summit County, Park City and Utah Department of Transportation staff to evaluate the three parcels, including Richardson Flat. What the three have in common is that they don’t have land acquisition costs, which Knotts said could double or even triple the project’s budget.
Richardson Flat placed third because of safety and accessibility concerns, as well as the prohibitive cost of building another access road from S.R. 248 to guide drivers to the lot.
The parcel that placed second is on the south side of S.R. 248 across from the parcel that was chosen. Both are owned by the Utah Department of Transportation, which would lease the land at low cost, Verson said.
The winning parcel scored well for safety, visibility from surrounding roads, accessibility and connectivity to trails and transit.
Councilor Glenn Wright agreed with the team’s assessment that the site chosen was the best of the three but questioned the scope of the project. He advocated for parking lots that would capture traffic and put drivers into mass transit farther away from Park City, east on S.R. 248 in Wasatch County, in Heber or near the Mayflower exit on U.S. 40.
Knotts responded that such projects would likely require money to acquire land and would be more expensive to service with mass transit.
Councilor Chris Robinson backed Wright’s points, but also supported the project.
“I think every little bit helps,” Robinson said. “If you can take 500 cars off 248, you’ve done something.”
Other concerns the elected officials raised included how drivers would access the lot, which would require left turns against stacked traffic, and integration with a potential future intersection overhaul.
Wright said at the meeting he was concerned the park-and-ride wouldn’t be used because of difficulty drivers may have accessing the lot during peak times, and suggested any such project should include a redesign of the U.S. 40/S.R. 248 interchange.
UDOT is not planning such a project for at least 20 years, Knotts said, though County Manager Tom Fisher pointed out the same was true for the Jeremy Ranch interchange redesign until the county put forward public money that quickened the project timeline.
Park City, Summit County and UDOT are partners on the Quinn’s Junction project. Knotts explained Park City has taken the lead, though the site is in Summit County.
The $3.65 million price tag includes an $800,000 option to aid with connecting the lot to the nearby Rail Rrail. Knotts indicated his department would seek federal funding for parts of the project and funding specifics would be more clear in the coming months as the project’s cost comes into focus.
So far, Park City has entered into a $420,000 contract with engineering firm AECOM to provide preliminary engineering work including a site analysis and to create detailed engineering plans and construction documents once a site has been selected. It’s paid for by the transportation sales tax, a pool of money shared between Summit County and Park City, portions of which are set aside for transit projects and transportation projects.
Summit County approved the use of the funds, Verson said.
The site is within the Park City annexation boundaries and could be annexed into the city, though those plans have not been made, Knotts said.
Verson said the project could be engineered this winter and Knotts estimated construction could begin next summer.
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Parkites see traffic and transportation as Park City’s biggest challenge over the next five to 10 years, a City Hall-hired firm that is leading the efforts to craft a community vision has found as part of its research. And they also see transportation solutions as one of the two top opportunities, alongside strategic development, during the same period, the research found.