Remote parking lot options in the Snyderville Basin explored
As Summit County continues to explore sites that would be suitable for developing remote parking lots throughout the Snyderville Basin to capture commuters coming into Park City, County Council members have reservations about pursuing the Ecker Hill view area as the first project.
County staffers presented the recommendations from a Blue Ribbon Citizens Advisory Committee to the County Council on Wednesday, along with Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau. Malone served on the committee, which was created to scout locations for remote parking lots.
The Ecker view area, Richardson Flat and the Park City Tech Center were identified as possible sites in August. But, the Ecker view area on Kilby Road across from Ecker Hill Middle School has been the county’s primary focus over the last several months because its “current use, availability and that it is one of the few open/available parcels between Salt Lake City and the greater Park City Area,” according to a county staff report.
“Each area would need a park-and-ride facility eventually, but Ecker captures traffic before getting to the problem child we have today (S.R. 224),” said Derrick Radke, the county’s public works director. “Ecker has the ability to intercept traffic before getting there. It can capture residents from the western side of our county who want to grab a transit connection into Kimball Junction or even Park City. It is fairly convenient.”
The park-and-ride discussions are part of the county’s broader efforts to combat congestion on S.R. 224, which has become a major problem. Voters approved two sales tax initiatives in 2016 to generate money for transportation projects over the next six years.
Wednesday’s conversation centered on the Ecker view area and what it would take to turn the site into a large-scale park-and-ride lot. Money was earmarked in the 2017 and 2018 budgets to complete the project through the transportation sales taxes.
The park-and-ride lot would accommodate 450 spaces and include a transit connection to the Kimball Junction Transit Center. The construction of a pedestrian underpass and wildlife fence would also be included.
It would cost about $3.4 million to develop the parking lot and create a transit connection, as well as an additional $3.5 million to improve Kilby Road from Ecker to Jeremy Ranch.
Radke said the site would be able to intercept traffic from Salt Lake City before commuters hit the Kimball Junction area. However, it would require buses to use Kilby Road to access the Kimball Junction Transit Center and it’s location next to the school is another potential downside.
“We tried to get access to this from the freeway, which would have been ideal, but that was not possible,” he said. “We would have to improve Kilby Road so those leaving the parking lot would have a quick way to get out.”
Staffers and the Council contemplated the feasibility of constructing an interchange to connect the Ecker view area with the interstate. Radke said that would likely cost more than $25 million to build and require coordination with the Utah Department of Transportation.
County Council member Chris Robinson immediately expressed reservations about the cost of the project and whether it would be a worthy investment. He suggested commuters may not utilize it because it does not have a direct access from the freeway.
“I have doubts as to whether this site meets the requirement of getting right in,” he said. “This is a long jaunt from Interstate 80, and we would be using a fair amount of money. Unless everyone is certain that this will be highly used, we are going a long way out of our way to improve that road. I’m thinking about the other two on the list: Cline Dahle and the Park City Tech Center.”
The county purchased the Cline Dahle parcel in 2017 with the hopes of developing the site for an affordable housing and transportation-oriented development. It is located on Rasmussen Road near Jeremy Ranch Elementary School and the Summit Center Commerce Park.
The citizen’s committee also seriously considered the other site — Park City Tech Center — for early implementation. However, the limits to that site are that it is not visible from S.R. 224, it would require commuters to go through Kimball Junction, which is already congested, and it would necessitate road improvements to S.R. 224.
County Council member Glenn Wright said he supports pursuing the Ecker view area project first because any project is going to have its strengths and weaknesses. “Any solution we have is going to require us to go through some gymnastics,” he said. “I think this is the best solution.”
Malone said he considered the sites from a simplistic approach of, “What’s the easiest and most intuitive for commuters?” He said a right-hand turn off of the freeway and a left-hand turn on Kilby Road is, in his opinion, inviting for commuters.
“I believe that you will get one chance to capture that person to pull off and park and put themselves in public transportation, whether it’s a day skier or worker, and we have to make it as easy as possible,” he said.
The county’s exploration of park-and-ride facilities is in conjunction with a major upcoming project to improve the Jeremy Ranch interchange. The $3.1 million project will include the construction of roundabouts at the entrance of Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook. Construction is scheduled to begin this spring.
The county is scheduled to hold an open house about the Jeremy Ranch interchange project with the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission on Feb. 27 at the Sheldon Richins Building. Another open house is scheduled with the County Council on March 14 at the Sheldon Richins Building. Part of the conversation is expected to highlight the Kilby Road improvement project and Ecker view area park-and-ride facility.
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Most of the $5.1 million increase over last year’s budget is from an increase in grant funding for the Health Department.