Round and round: traffic circle suggested at busy Park City intersection | ParkRecord.com

Round and round: traffic circle suggested at busy Park City intersection

Jay Hamburger The Park Record

Park City leaders and state transportation officials might go round and round as they debate some of the ideas that have been broached for a busy stretch of S.R. 224 inside the city limits.

One of the ideas discussed at a recent open house was building a roundabout at the intersection of S.R. 224 and S.R. 248, the two state highways that serve as the Park City entryways. The event centered on the section of S.R. 224 between the Thaynes Canyon Drive and Bonanza Drive intersections, the portion of the road that is under consideration for alterations.

S.R. 224 is marked Park Avenue through a section of the Park City limits while S.R. 248 is signed as Kearns Boulevard. The intersection where a roundabout was offered as an idea is among Park City’s busiest, with Snow Creek and Holiday Village occupying two corners. The Olympic Welcome Plaza is situated just off the intersection.

Park City officials are considering long-range ideas for the stretch of S.R. 224 as they attempt to better manage the various modes of transportation on the road private vehicles, buses and bicyclists being among them.

The recent open house, which attracted approximately 25 people, covered numerous ideas for S.R. 224 between the two intersections. The idea of a roundabout being built was among the most ambitious. Other possibilities that were discussed included installing bicycle paths, putting in pedestrian routes and reconfiguring some streets. The people at the open house cast a series of votes, signaling their support or opposition to the ideas.

The idea for a roundabout at the intersection of the two state highways, coupled with a pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel at the same location, won wide support at the open house. The polling at the meeting, which was conducted through devices handed out to the people in attendance, showed the idea had support from 78 percent of the voters. Another 17 percent said they did not support the idea and the others were not sure. A little less than 20 of the people at the meeting voted.

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Brooks Robinson, the transportation planner for City Hall who was heavily involved in organizing the open house, said a roundabout at the intersection, if it is pursued, probably would not be built for at least another decade. He said a roundabout creates smoother traffic flow than a stoplight. There is a stoplight at the intersection now.

"I think roundabouts, in general, are good options for moving traffic," Robinson said.

He said accidents in roundabouts are generally less serious than those at traditional intersections since vehicles usually do not strike each other in a T-bone fashion. Robinson said the accompanying pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel also improves safety for people not driving since they would not need to cross at street level.

Numerous decisions would need to be made prior to the construction of a roundabout. City Hall and the Utah Department of Transportation would have to reach an accord since the roads are under state jurisdiction. It is unclear, meanwhile, whether the government entity that would be in charge of the project would need to acquire privately held property for a roundabout. Robinson said budget projections have not been crafted.

A roundabout at the location would follow more than a decade after the construction of the most notable traffic circle in the Park City area. The roundabout at the Deer Valley Drive-Marsac Avenue intersection was put in as the 2002 Winter Olympics approached. It replaced a tricky intersection that did not have a stoplight. There were complaints about the roundabout early in its existence, but they have subsided over the years.

It would also almost certainly not be built until major decisions are made about the redevelopment of the Bonanza Park district, which is centered along Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive. A key landowner holds ambitious plans to remake Bonanza Park into a hip district of retailers, restaurants and residential properties. Both of the state highways are important to Bonanza Park’s future, with Kearns Boulevard being especially critical. A timeline for the redevelopment has not been solidified.

Results from some of the other votes cast at the open house included:

  • a majority opposed an idea to turn Park Avenue and Bonanza Drive into one-way streets in tandem. The streets would be headed in different directions under the idea.
  • a majority supported an idea to reduce the number of parking lot entries and exits along S.R. 224 by eliminating or combining them.
  • a majority supported the idea of building a pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel at the intersection of Park Avenue and Empire Avenue.
  • poor was the most popular response when the people were asked to rate the appearance of S.R. 224 between the two intersections.
  • the safety of bicyclists was the most popular response when the people were asked about safety on the stretch of road.
  • noise was the most popular response when people were asked about environmental issues at the location.