The County Council says S.R. 248 widening is a regional issue, plans to offer input
The controversial proposal to widen S.R. 248 to five lanes in Park City and hack into PC Hill has caught the eye of the Summit County Council, but councilors say they are waiting for the public to have its say before they weigh in.
The Utah Department of Transportation project would take place within the Park City limits on the 2.9-mile stretch of road running from S.R. 224 past Park City High School to where the road widens near the U.S. 40 interchange.
County elected officials, though, including Councilor Glenn Wright, have said the project’s impacts go beyond Park City.
“It’s really a regional issue, it’s not just a Park City/UDOT issue,” Wright said in an interview. “We have not been invited to the table but I think we should be.”
Wright, who lives “about a block from the project” has voiced his opposition to the plan in the last two County Council meetings, calling it shortsighted.
“(The project) should be expanded to include all areas we receive traffic from on 248,” Wright said at the June 26 County Council meeting. “(They’re saying there are) two options: Build what we’re telling you to build, or build nothing (and) get no funds. At this point I’d say build nothing.”
Both Wright and Council Chair Roger Armstrong said their priorities are dealing with the affects of increasing traffic, both its carbon footprint and the impact on those waiting in gridlock.
They’d like to see more of an emphasis on solutions that reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips and total vehicle miles traveled, and increase the use of public transportation. Those are goals shared by Park City, the councilors said. Possible solutions could include dedicated high-occupancy vehicle lanes and room for a potential bus rapid transit system.
At the June 26 meeting, Councilor Kim Carson asked staff to find out the best course of action for the Council to weigh in on the plan. Wright and Armstrong both said in interviews that could take the form of a joint meeting with Park City, UDOT and the county. No meeting has been scheduled.
The project is in the environmental assessment phase, with UDOT having released a nearly 1,500-page document about the scope of its potential impacts. The public comment period ends July 11, and both Armstrong and Wright said it was important not to influence public input by the county weighing in before that is over. UDOT will incorporate public input into a final environmental assessment, planned to be released this fall.
Wright said the county has a good working relationship with UDOT, citing the ongoing Jeremy Ranch roundabout project. And Armstrong was confident the county’s voice would be heard in the process based on his experience working on the commission that drafted the Kimball Junction neighborhood plan.
That commission invited UDOT representatives to help work through possible solutions for improving traffic flow in the area, and the officials offered insight into the department’s decision-making process.
Armstrong said UDOT wants to have local support for any project, but it’s also important that neighboring jurisdictions buy in to the solution. For Kimball Junction, that meant making sure Park City was on board; for S.R. 248, Armstrong believes the county’s input will be sought.
Armstrong said there are many factors the Council will weigh when deciding how to respond to a potential solution on S.R. 248, including whether any project could later be retrofitted to include a bus rapid transit system and the risk of negative feedback convincing the state to pull funding in favor of one of the many other projects seeking UDOT approval.
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Jeremy Rubell, a Thaynes Canyon business strategy and technology consultant, has started a campaign for the Park City Council, indicating the community has changed rapidly even in the six years he has been a full-time Parkite.