Sundance worries Park City’s traffic ideas could lead to more gridlock
Sundance Film Festival organizers have expressed concern about a City Hall idea to restrict traffic on Park Avenue during the January event, indicating in a letter sent to Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council the concept would have detrimental impacts on the broader road network and several festival venues.
Park City staffers prepared a set of ideas to manage traffic during Sundance in anticipation of a City Council meeting on Thursday. It is not clear how detailed the discussion Thursday will be, and it seems likely more talks will be planned later. The letter from Sundance, though, broaches a series of topics that the elected officials and City Hall staffers could address as any plans are finalized.
One of the key ideas outlined by City Hall calls for a stretch of Park Avenue to be turned into a one-way road northbound, the outbound direction. Transit buses would be allowed in both directions, though.
The letter from Sundance to the elected officials, signed by Betsy Wallace, who is the managing director and chief financial officer, says there would be a series of categories of drivers needing permits for Park Avenue access. They include residents, people who work at businesses on Park Avenue and people headed to the Park City Library. Wallace notes there are festival venues along Park Avenue as well, including the screening room at the library, and Sundance staffers operate in the Miners Hospital. Service vehicles, delivery trucks and trash trucks would also need access to Park Avenue, she says.
The letter from Wallace also outlines the possibility of vehicles that would otherwise be on Park Avenue causing backups elsewhere.
“Our concerns also lie with the additional non-permitted cars taken off of Park Avenue and routing them either on to Deer Valley Drive or Empire Avenue, causing increased gridlock along both roads and all the way down to the Park Avenue and Kearns Boulevard intersection and possibly out further along Highway 224,” Wallace writes.
Wallace questions whether increased traffic on Deer Valley Drive could hinder buses as they arrive and depart the Old Town transit center, a critical component of the Sundance transportation plans.
“There is discussion about adding a center lane for buses heading into Old Town on Deer Valley Drive but that can only happen in good weather and providing easy lane transition for the buses as they approach the roundabout. We cannot add more risk of an accident occurring on Deer Valley Drive with possible temporary closures on the only way up to Main Street or Deer Valley Resort,” the letter says.
Some other Sundance concerns, described in an attachment to the letter, include
• ”We are worried that our filmgoers will not be able to get to the Library theater and will miss their films. We need to make sure that transit runs as smoothly as possible so that people continue to trust and use the free buss/shuttle system to get them to their locations on time.”
• “Restricting Park Avenue might create the opposite result and push more cars to residential streets. The number of officers/street management and cost of enforcement at every residential street would be hard to fill and very expensive.”
• “How will law enforcement be able to manage all the cars with permits going through Park Avenue without causing complete gridlock at the intersection of Empire Avenue, Deer Valley Drive and Park Avenue? Enforcement will be stopping cars to look for a permit which will cause traffic to back up into that very busy intersection.”
Wallace suggests in the letter City Hall contract with a traffic engineer to address issues during Sundance and on a year-round basis.
“We are amenable to testing reasonable alternatives during the Festival as we want to improve the overall traffic experience for both residents and visitors, but we need to feel, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that such alternatives will not have severe unintended consequences that will negatively impact Festival operations and the flow of traffic throughout the city,” she says.
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