S.R. 224 shared shoulder proposed again
During peak season, traffic on State Road 224 can be overwhelming. That’s why this year, the Utah Department of Transportation, in conjunction with Park City and Summit County, is gauging public opinion of a shared bus/bicycle lane on the northbound side of S.R. 224.
Adan Carillo, UDOT Region 2 Communications Manager, said the shared shoulder concept was tried last winter during the Sundance Film Festival. He said it worked "very well" as it was geared toward improving mobility for those coming in and out of Park City.
"During Sundance, [buses] had the ability to jump on that shoulder if there was a benefit to doing so to bypass all the congestion they were experiencing at that time," Carillo said.
Carillo said UDOT has considered expanding the shared shoulder concept to other times of the year that see high traffic. He said signage would be included so buses know when they can use the shared lane and how fast they can drive.
Brooks Robinson, Senior Transportation Planner with Park City Municipal Corporation, said, based on data gathering last year, buses can save an average of four minutes on a trip from Cutter Lane to Redstone.
Robinson doesn’t see the shared shoulder concept being used outside of the winter and added there would be fewer if any cyclists during the primary instances which it would be used.
Having park-and-rides where people can park and use public transit as well as high-occupancy vehicle lanes could be future traffic solutions, Robinson said. "Queue jumpers" are another possibility, he added, which allow faster traffic flow through intersections for buses in a certain lane.
Summit County Public Works Director Derrick Radke said he hopes such initiatives will spur residents and visitors to use public transit.
"If people notice the bus is getting [to Kimball Junction] twice as fast as they are, maybe they’ll consider taking the transit service," Radke said, stressing that the shared shoulder lane would have "minimal impacts" to cyclists and surrounding traffic.
Radke said there is a push not to add more pavement to S.R. 224 and that the next logical step is the addition of an HOV lane. Robinson agreed, emphasizing the importance of having fewer single-occupancy vehicles on the road.
Buses would yield to cyclists in the shared lane, Robinson said, and he wants to get the word out to the cycling community that the shared shoulder lane would accommodate them.
Carillo said this would be a short-term traffic solution and that UDOT’s engineers as well as Park City and Summit County staff are working at formulating more long-term solutions, the HOV lane being a possibility among those.
"We haven’t set up a window yet, but we can explore the avenue of doing it year-round," Carillo said.
The public open house for the S.R. 224 shared lane will be held Tuesday, Dec. 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Richins Building Auditorium, 1885 W. Ute Boulevard. For more information, call 888-803-3921.
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