State Road 224 study explores alternative transit options
Bus-rapid transit and rapid streetcar/light-rail transit being considered
Summit County and Park City, along with the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City Corporation and the Wasatch Front Regional Council, are conducting a final study to evaluate transportation connections along one of Park City’s main entry corridors.
The study aims to identify ways to increase mobility and capacity on State Road 224, from Interstate 80 to Kearns Boulevard, without widening the road or adding more cars. An online survey will be available to the public until Tuesday, Oct. 31, and can be accessed at http://valleytomountainstudy.com/.
“This allows the community to come up with a locally preferred alternative,” said Alfred Knotts, Park City’s transportation planning manager. “This is intended to save a lot of time and procedural steps and a lot of cost by getting early public input. It’s extremely important that the community give us feedback to make sure it fits the context of the community.”
Bus-rapid transit and a rapid streetcar/light-rail transit are the two options that will be evaluated through the study for feasibility, cost and preference for S.R. 224 between Kimball Junction and Park City. Those modes of transportation were identified as the preferred options through an online survey conducted earlier this year. The choices that were eliminated included an aerial transit, automated guideway transit, monorail and high-speed rail.
Public comment will help identify the favored footprint for the transit option’s alignment on S.R. 224, which will either be down the center, adjacent to or running on both sides of the road.
The center-running transit line would operate in dedicated lanes in the middle of S.R. 224, according to the project website. It states service would start at the Kimball Junction Transit Center, loop around Ute Boulevard and run south on S.R. 224 to Kearns Boulevard. The dedicated lane would follow Kearns Boulevard to Bonanza Drive, ending at a proposed transit station on Bonanza Drive near Munchkin Road.
Another choice would place dedicated transit lanes on both sides of S.R. 224. Southbound transit would run west of S.R. 224 and northbound transit east of the road. The transit lanes would run from Kimball Junction to Kearns Boulevard, according to the website.
The west side-running transit line would operate in a dedicated lane west of S.R. 224. Service would start at the Kimball Junction Transit Center, looping around Ute Boulevard and running south on S.R. 224 to Kearns Boulevard. This footprint would use regular traffic lanes between Kearns Boulevard and a future Bonanza Drive transit hub.
“We are not only planning for right now, but these types of federal investments have to consider 20-year planning and what is the potential to exist 20 years down the road,” Knotts said. “It is looking to the future at significant changes and improvements with giving priority to mass transit.
“We implemented the Electric Express and are working on transit signal priority that will allow buses to hold or extend the light,” he added. “What is really still lacking is the physical improvements to give transit the true priority to compete.”
The public’s comments will help narrow down the options for an environmental and financial analysis before the best alternative is identified. The favored option would serve the Kimball Junction Transit Center and eventually connect to a new transit center on Bonanza Drive, south of Kearns Boulevard, according to the project website. The total alignment is about six miles long and would include stops on Olympic Parkway, Canyons Resort Drive, Bobsled Boulevard and Thaynes Canyon Drive.
“We are trying to be proactive here,” Knotts said. “We are being very aggressive and, hopefully, the community sees that. But, we are also being responsible.”
The S.R. 224 corridor study was one of the main reasons the Summit County Council agreed to stay involved with the regional transportation plan known as the Mountain Accord — which has transformed into the Central Wasatch Commission — through the second phase.
Future phases of the study may include a more in-depth analysis of Interstate 80 and connections between the Salt Lake Valley and Park City. The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is also reportedly planning to conduct a study evaluating traffic patterns on S.R. 248 between S.R. 224 and U.S. 40 later this year.
County Manager Tom Fisher echoed Knott’s comments about importance of the public identifying their preferred transit option.
“The public’s comments weigh quite a bit,” he said. “If there are certain pros and cons to the way that runs to how it works with pedestrians and how it works with individual vehicle traffic, that is the kind of thing that people need to be thinking about as they answer the survey questions.”
Fisher said Park City and Summit County are “inextricably linked between Kimball Junction and Park City proper.” He said the two governments have jointly planned on increasing service in order to help reduce traffic congestion and allow more advanced corridors.
“There are a lot of interested parties here and it is an interesting opportunity for all of these entities,” he said. “We will be the first project this far advanced in the Central Wasatch Commission’s portfolio. Although I can’t speak to specific timelines, I think there is some possibility of moving this forward quicker based on how much has already gone into it.”
Public comment will be accepted through Tuesday, Oct. 31. The study can be accessed at here.
Becca Gerber, a first-term member of the Park City Council who is seen as bringing a younger person’s perspective to the Marsac Building, will seek reelection this year.