Summit County rolls out long-range transit plans
Bob Neumeister has heard bits and pieces of the conversations surrounding transportation and traffic solutions over the last several months. However, he wanted to get a more unified look at what is being considered by Summit County and its regional partners.
Neumeister, a Jeremy Ranch resident, and about 30 others attended the transportation open house Wednesday evening at the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter. Neumeister says he wasn’t impressed.
"It’s a mishmash of nothing as far as I can tell," he said. "I don’t see anything out of all of this except for ways to keep people from using the roads rather than making the roads more usable.
"I don’t think our government has addressed the issues of growth or the amount of growth. There is a lot of money being spent on consultants, but that never goes anywhere," he said. "The whole town is more concerned about what we can do for tourists, more so than locals. I’ve been here for 25 years and it has went from being about skiing to being about money."
The open house served as the public kick-off of the long-range transportation plan, which is intended to guide investment in Summit County transportation for the next 35 years. It defines the overarching vision and establishes goals and traffic projections, but won’t be complete for about a year.
An outline of the plan lists the following objectives:
- Reduce the number of fatal and serious injuries on the transportation system
- Increase the number of jobs and services that Utahns can reach within a certain travel time
- Keep infrastructure in good condition
- Reduce emissions that adversely affect health, quality of life and the economy
- Reduce the likelihood of driving long distances daily
- Increase the share of trips using non-single occupant vehicle modes
The outline does not include any specific solutions or projects to accomplish those goals.
Several table stations also featured information from the county’s regional transportation partners, such as Park City Municipal, Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority and Mountainland Association of Governments.
Caroline Ferris, Summit County regional transportation director, said most attendees asked about parking and solutions that would be implemented within the next year.
"We are always planning for the future and my job is to plan for the future, but we try and leave flexibility so we can respond to conditions on the ground as soon as possible," Ferris said. "Everything requires a plan and it would be irresponsible to implement an immediate change without a solid plan in place."
Robyn Bailey, a Silver Springs resident, said she found "a lot of really good ideas" at the open house. Bailey said she is pleased these issues are being addressed.
Nenna De Camps, the housing program manager with Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, served as a Spanish translator for the event. De Camps spent several minutes speaking with a Latino couple from Heber who had been commuting to Park City for more than 10 years and were interested in public transportation between the two.
"This question continued with a discussion about affordable housing, what are the housing options for the Latino workforce and affordable childcare, how the Latino could make a living by working two or three jobs, be good parents and live decently," De Camps said in an email to The Park Record.
Katy Wang, a Pinebrook resident, said she is frustrated that there is very little public transit service to her neighborhood. While Wang said she doesn’t know what the solution is, she was curious to see what the county proposed for eliminating the congestion because it is "only getting worse."
"I grew up in New York City, one of the best public transportation systems in the world," Wang said. "I’ve also been here for 15 years and I’ve seen the traffic and the answer isn’t four lanes. It is about a better transit system. They just need to face the reality of the people who live here. If we have a car we are going to drive it. It’s about changing people’s behaviors and giving them an incentive. If there was free Wi-Fi on the buses it becomes a little bit more reasonable to say, ‘OK. It’s going to take me 30 minutes to get to work instead of 15."
Nell Larson, a Kimball Junction resident, shared Wang’s frustrations about the transit system.
"I would love to take the bus more and I do take it from time to time, but it’s really hard to make it work just because of my schedule," Larson said. "I think it is awesome to see them talking about these topics, but it’s almost like it’s that threshold issue. We don’t have a huge population so can we really afford to run buses every five minutes?"
Next week, Ferris and Derrick Radke, the Summit County public works director, are scheduled to meet with council to discuss planning through 2020 and some cost estimates for improvements. The County Council is in the midst of a series of discussions about pursuing funding sources to pay for transportation-related projects.
"We heard what our council and citizens say we need right away and that will happen in concurrence with the long-range plan," Ferris said. "We are leaving some flexibility, but we also need to start preparing now for increased transportation and that conversation will include what we think we should be spending our money on."
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Councilor Glenn Wright estimated that the ability to provide renewable energy sources for county power will cost the average Summit County resident $0.70 per year above current costs.