Summit County considers dedicated bus lanes on S.R. 224 | ParkRecord.com

Summit County considers dedicated bus lanes on S.R. 224

A study evaluating transportation connections along one of Park City's main entry corridors has identified dedicated bus lanes as the preferred mass-transit alternative to address congestion along S.R. 224. The Valley to Mountain study, commissioned through the now-defunct Mountain Accord, aimed to identify ways to increase mobility and capacity on S.R. 224 from Interstate 80 to Kearns Boulevard without widening the road or adding more cars. It evaluated transit options for feasibility, cost and preference.

Participants in an online survey selected bus rapid transit as the preferred option, according to Caroline Rodriguez, Summit County's regional transportation director. Choices that were eliminated included rapid streetcar/light-rail transit, aerial transit, automated guideway transit, monorail and high-speed rail.

Placing dedicated bus lanes on both sides of S.R. 224 emerged as the preferred design because it provided the lowest cost per rider of all alternatives.

"It allows for flexibility for other high-occupancy vehicles and builds on the existing bus service," she said. "We received the most community support for that footprint and it can be expanded to other stops."

The concept of identifying a mass-transit alternative began to take shape in 2011, Rodriguez said. She said the concept has been included in all of the county's short- and long-term transportation plans. The Mountain Accord allocated $400,000 for an analysis to identify a locally preferred option in 2016.

County Council members agreed to adopt bus rapid transit as the locally preferred alternative on Wednesday. The Council's approval allows staff to commission an environmental study to determine whether adding dedicated bus lanes is feasible.

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"It doesn't constitute project approval and it doesn't allocate or commit additional funding," Rodriguez told the County Council. "But, adoption is critical to move forward. It will allow us additional design opportunities and robust public involvement to discuss funding and how the project will move forward from there."

Summit County and Park City have earmarked nearly $1 million for the environmental study, Rodriguez said. But, she said it won't likely cost that much. The county will also be applying for a $25 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant to help fund the $62 million project.

"Adopting the locally preferred alternative and moving into the environmental study phase demonstrates that we are ready to move our process forward and are in a really good position," she said.

County Council member Roger Armstrong expressed reservations about the effectiveness of bus rapid transit lanes prior to approving the preferred option.

"I would just hope that we look at making it as efficient as possible," he said. "I'm in support of it, but as other technologies emerge I will be concerned about the impact they have on bus rapid transit and non-bus rapid transit traffic."

Armstrong also suggested the county figure out how to provide metrics that illustrate the effectiveness of the transportation solutions that are being considered.

"I think it's time for the county to take a step back and look at our transportation initiative and see where we are now and figure out what the next project we are looking at," he said.

County Council members Glenn Wright and Doug Clyde agreed with Armstrong. They said the county needs to sit down with its transit partners to discuss improvements to the current system.

"If we are creating park and rides and have the ability to get people on this system, we need to have some vague discussions about how we will get people off the system in several places, such as Deer Valley," he said.

Clyde suggested the county conduct rider surveys to determine where people are going to more accurately implement some of the strategies that are on the table.

"I think we need more data and to get the environmental work done," he said.