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Road closures spur hot travel deals

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Park City merchants are hoping to turn a potential disaster into a windfall.

They want a captive audience of customers to keep cash registers buzzing when Interstate 80 in Parleys Canyon is closed for 48 hours in August.

Westbound lanes will close Aug. 9 at 4 p.m. and reopen at 4 p.m. Aug 10. Aug. 16, the eastbound lanes will be closed from 7 p.m. until 7 p.m. Aug. 17.

"We’ve never closed the canyon down for something like this," said Randy Park, director of Utah Department of Transportation Region II.

But closing the freeway for 24 hours allows UDOT to replace bridges at Mountain Dell and Lambs Canyon less expensively by impacting drivers for fewer hours, Park explained.

"The closures are a little bit of an inconvenience, but if [drivers] plan around them they shouldn’t have any issues visiting Summit County," UDOT spokeswoman Evelyn Tuddenham said.

Businesses in Park City have already posted deals during the closures at parkcityinfo.com/i80, Park City Chamber/Bureau Executive Director Bill Malone said.

"That allows businesses to put specials on for those two weekends," Malone said. "We have quite a bit of lodging that has put information on that Web site to encourage people to stay that weekend."

Restaurants like Zona Rosa, Grub Steak, Domino’s, The Spur Bar and Grill and 350 Main have also posted discounted menu items on the Web site.

There are deals at Utah Olympic Park and sales at Breeze Ski and Snowboard Rentals, Tanger Outlet Center, iPaw and Carter’s during the closures, the Web site states.

Television commercials aim to educate people about the closures, Malone said.

"They’re really brief 10-second spots on all four major TV stations in Salt Lake," he explained.

Visitors to the Chamber/Bureau Web site can link to udot.utah.gov/innovate80 to "get the latest information on the road closures," Malone said.

"It’s never fun when these things happen and we’re trying to make lemonade out of lemons," he said. "It has to be done and there is never a good time for these things."

Weekend concertgoers should arrive early during the closures, Malone said.

"People are doing what they can in order to hopefully maintain as much business as possible with the highway being closed for 24 hours at a time," he said.

Providers of transportation must also adjust, Malone said.

"Because if people have an early flight that Sunday morning when the westbound closure occurs, they need to be knowledgeable of that and not dealing with it in a frantic situation," he said.

The closures will start west of Summit Park near Parleys Summit.

"There will be two bridges per weekend that will get moved," Park said, adding that bridges near Mountain Dell and Lambs Canyon on each side of the freeway will be replaced. "We’ll complete that totally in a 24-hour period We do realize this is an enormous impact to all the commuters who use the canyon."

A hotline will provide construction updates at (888) I80-UDOT, he said.

Motorists needing to get around the closures should use Interstate 84 or US 189 in Provo Canyon, suggested Park.

"It’ll just take a little bit of planning on their part," he said.

There will not be opportunities for the public to view bridge construction in Parleys Canyon, lamented Park.

"These bridges are actually fairly simple," he said.

Peak travel times during weekend afternoons see roughly 1,800 vehicles travel through Parleys Canyon per hour, UDOT Project Manager Mark Parry said.


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