Shoppers face snarled traffic on Black Friday
Black Friday shoppers didn’t let the stop-and-go traffic near the Tanger Outlets deter them from capitalizing on the discounts over the weekend.
At around 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, Landmark Drive’s westbound lane was backed up to the entrance of Walmart near Ute Boulevard. Cars slowly crawled toward the Tanger Outlets as drivers dealt with the snarled traffic in an attempt to secure parking spots, while others abandoned their cars in nearby parking lots and walked.
Despite the constant flow of traffic, neither the Utah Highway Patrol nor the Summit County Sheriff’s Office reported any vehicle-related accidents.
Caroline Ferris, Summit County regional transportation planning director, said she heard "nothing and I have had no complaints at all."
"I think it says that citizens are aware that there are some days like Black Friday that you cannot plan for unless you tell everyone ‘No cars at all,’" Ferris said. "It is just one out of 365 days that operate like that, but, in general, the system operates efficiently. When you go out on Black Friday they are used to crowds and they are used to waiting so it is sort of to be expected.
"But there is always an opportunity to learn from any situation that we find ourselves in," she said.
Friday’s traffic overwhelmed the roundabout that feeds into the entrance of the Tanger Outlet’s more than 50 stores and nearly prevented traffic traveling east along Kilby Road from entering onto Landmark Drive.
Improvements to the roundabout is be one of several projects the county plans to undertake in the Kimball Junction-area within the next couple of years to address the traffic, Ferris said. A $1 million grant is slated to cover the upgrades in 2017.
During the discussions about the Canyon Corners Development Project, residents, planning commissioners and the council raised concerns about Landmark Drive’s ability to handle additional traffic, but went ahead and approved the project anyway.
County staff is also requesting funding to extend the Park City Transit system’s hours of operation in the Snyderville Basin to match the times in the city, Ferris said. The early morning resort employee route along the Kilby and Bitner roads began Nov. 20, Ferris said. The extended hours of operation to match those inside Park City will affect the last Kimball Junction east and west routes, which will now depart from the Old Town Transit Center at 12 a.m. and 11:40 p.m., respectively. The extended hours will begin Dec. 4 and the funds will be included in the 2016 budget.
Groundbreaking on a Kimball Junction Transit Center was slated to take place sometime this year, but will likely be delayed until spring.
"But it’s more than just transit," Ferris said. "The Millennium Trail by the Outlets is now lit so you can always feel safe to walk there. We will also be putting in new wayfinding tools so people can walk to the Outlets.
"We are doing so much for Kimball Junction in the next couple of years," Ferris said. "We are trying to make it more of a comprehensive system that is easier for people to move around so they feel comfortable that they can get leave their cars and get there quickly and efficiently."
Days like Black Friday and last year’s Christmas week traffic jam provide an opportunity for citizens to take a step back and say, "if five of us were on the bus instead of in the car, how would that affect this," Ferris said.
"That’s the kind of thing we are trying to educate people about. Those are the times that you can easily take public transit," Ferris said.
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The Jordanelle Reservoir is at about 67% of its capacity, not the lowest its been but a level that officials say is concerning.