Road: ‘a ton of problems’ |

Road: ‘a ton of problems’

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Jody Gross is on Bonanza Drive each day, delicately making turns on the busy street when she finds the few gaps in rush-hour traffic.

Her assessment of the northernmost stretch of the street, between the Rail Trail and Kearns Boulevard: "it’s insanity." Gross, who lives on Lucky John Drive in Park Meadows and drives Bonanza Drive to her work lot and to Main Street, predicts there will be a fatal accident on the street someday.

"There’s a ton of problems with it. I use it all the time. I see people crossing — there’s a whole bunch of hotspots," Gross said during a recent open house about Bonanza Drive.

City Hall is considering major upgrades to Bonanza Drive that, officials say, would make the street easier on pedestrians and bicyclists as well as simpler for drivers to navigate. The details have not been decided, and the open house gave regular Parkites a chance to mingle with city staffers and a consultant City Hall hired to assist with Bonanza Drive.

About 30 people attended the Miners Hospital event, poring over charts showing the possibilities for Bonanza Drive and talking to the consulting team about the ideas. They include building stoplights at key intersections and installing traffic islands and new lanes.

The consultant says the ideas would better manage the traffic as Bonanza Drive approaches Kearns Boulevard. They would especially target turning drivers at several intersections, such as Iron Horse Drive and Munchkin Road, and people who exit nearby parking lots.

The stretch of Bonanza Drive clogs frequently during the afternoon rush hour, and the traffic worsens during the busy ski season. At its worst, some drivers back up toward the Bonanza Drive-Deer Valley Drive intersection and others line up in the parking lots trying to turn in either direction onto Bonanza Drive.

Traffic engineers have determined that the street fails during the afternoon rush hour, with the road at its worst during Park City’s busiest days of the ski season.

"You have to be aggressive to get out," Gross said about turning left onto Bonanza Drive. "If you don’t get your nose out there . . . They won’t slow down."

The open house continued what will be a lengthy discussion between City Hall, businesspeople along Bonanza Drive and regular Parkites as a major redo of the street approaches. The local government intends to install a water line beneath Bonanza Drive in 2009, an opportune time, City Hall says, to complete upgrades for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Voters on Election Day provided the city with $15 million to upgrade pedestrian and bicycling routes, and some of the money will almost certainly be spent on Bonanza Drive, probably to build a pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel underneath the street near the Rail Trail.

Bonanza Drive is the most direct route between points east and Old Town and the city’s mountain resorts. Commuters from the East Side of Summit County, the eastern stretches of the Snyderville Basin and Wasatch County regularly use the road, as do people who live in Park Meadows and Prospector.

Park City Engineer Eric DeHaan expects to provide Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council a recommendation for Bonanza Drive in December, but it is unclear what DeHaan will include in the report. He will choose from a range of options for the road, many of which were presented at Miners Hospital.

"Bonanza isn’t broke really badly. It’s busy," DeHaan says. "It’s not like we have to throw it in the trash and start over."

He says the road’s future partly hinges on development planned in the burgeoning North of Main district, centered along Bonanza Drive, and it is difficult for him to detail what road improvements will fit with the developers’ plans.

The people at the event generally favored some sort of Bonanza Drive upgrades, but they were intrigued by the details of the blueprints. However, Tom Hurd, a Parkite who recently publicized his opposition to the $15 million bond, wondered at Miners Hospital whether Bonanza Drive is as unsafe as others portray.

Hurd says there have been few accidents between drivers and pedestrians or bicyclists on Bonanza Drive. Hurd argues Bonanza Drive is suitable for people not driving cars.

"This is not a nightmare. This is a safe place to be for everybody — for the bicyclists, for the pedestrians," Hurd says. "If you listen to the hype, you’d think kids were being knocked off their bikes everyday."

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