Stop the traffic: light nears debut |

Stop the traffic: light nears debut

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

A new stoplight is scheduled to debut Friday in Park City, providing relief for people trying to turn onto S.R. 224 on the edge of Park Meadows but also likely adding frustration to drivers on the state highway.

State transportation officials are expected to start operating the stoplight, at the S.R. 224-Meadows Drive intersection, the day after Thanksgiving, a few weeks before the busiest stretch of the ski season arrives.

Neighbors in Park Meadows and Aspen Springs Drive are especially eager for the stoplight to be turned on. Many lobbied City Hall to build one at the intersection, saying the spot is dangerous. They have said there is the prospect of a terrible crash if a stoplight was not installed.

"Without the traffic light there, the probability of a very dangerous accident, or significant accident, is increased," says Bill Gorton, who lives on Crestline Drive and assisted as the neighborhood rallied for the stoplight, helping gather more than 200 signatures on a petition.

Gorton says he avoids the intersection now, claiming it is unsafe, but he plans to use it once the stoplight is operational. He says turning left onto S.R. 224 to drive to Park City will be convenient.

The stoplight will be the eighth inside the city limits. All are on either S.R. 224 or S.R. 248, the two state highways that travel through the city limits. The stoplights are concentrated on the entryways and the Deer Valley Drive spine through the city. S.R. 224 is the busiest way in and out of the city, connecting Park City with Kimball Junction and Interstate 80.

Park City Engineer Eric DeHaan, who assisted as City Hall and the Utah Department of Transportation reached a deal for the new stoplight, says it cost $250,000, with the state paying $200,000.

"Is it safer? Yes. The serious accidents, the ones (that) can kill people, are generally reduced slightly," DeHaan says.

According to DeHaan, the light will remain green for S.R. 224 traffic unless a driver or pedestrian on Meadows Drive triggers a change. A driver on Meadows Drive will get a 3.5-second green light. If there is a line of cars on Meadows Drive, the green light will last longer, DeHaan says. The stoplight will give a pedestrian 28 seconds to cross the street.

"It stops 250 cars so one car can turn left. If you’re that one car, it’s a good thing," DeHaan says.

The stoplight will be programmed to work with a high-tech system that regulates lights on S.R. 224 and S.R. 248 between Kimball Junction and Quinn’s Junction. The system monitors traffic and adjusts the lights accordingly.

The S.R. 224-Meadows Drive intersection perplexed officials and neighbors for months before a deal for the stoplight was struck. There was talk of building a roundabout at the intersection, but there were concerns it would be too expensive. DeHaan says it is now "virtually impossible" to build a roundabout because of the investment in the stoplight.

The stoplight, DeHaan admits, might add a few minutes to the drive into Park City, but promoters will not have to change their marketing efforts that portray the city being an easy drive from Salt Lake International Airport.

"It will give people more time to enjoy the beautiful scenery as they wait for the light to turn green," Gorton counters.

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