Tips meant to lessen Sundance traffic
And Parkites thought the traffic around the holidays was bad.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s, traditionally one of the busiest times of the year, did not warrant a City Hall press release telling people about "avoiding gridlock" like the one issued on Wednesday.
But on Thursday, Jan. 19, film-festival week starts and officials at City Hall and with the Sundance Institute are widely publicizing their wishes that people don’t drive into Old Town. The narrow streets can quickly become overrun with cars and traffic jams during Sundance are typically some of the worst of the year.
And there are not as many parking spots available as City Hall had hoped since the new Swede Alley parking garage is delayed and will not be open and, because of the construction, a swath of Swede Alley spots are unavailable as well.
Construction at Park City High School, where movies are shown at the Eccles Center, has essentially eliminated Sundance parking outside the Eccles. There will be limited parking there on weekends and after 3 p.m. on weekdays.
After school hours, though, parking will be available at the nearby Treasure Mountain International School and McPolin Elementary School.
There is not Sundance parking available at the Racquet Club, another spot where movies are shown, but the nearby LDS Church on Monitor Drive will allow Sundance parking after 3 p.m. on weekdays and all day on Saturdays. No parking is allowed there on Sundays.
Emma Ruse, the Sundance staffer in charge of shuttles and parking, said there is, generally, no parking at film festival venues. She said, though, there are a limited number of spots across Park Avenue from the Park City Library and Education Center and in lots G and F in Prospector
. Traffic is usually bad during Sundance and the government is urging people to avoid driving during morning and afternoon rush hours, to carpool and to use the city’s buses. People should shop and run errands before noon, the city suggests. The city said traffic will be bad on S.R. 248 nearby the Eccles Center at 8:30-9:30 a.m., 2-3 p.m., 5-6 p.m. and 8:30-9:30 p.m.
The government this year, meanwhile, instituted a pass system for people wanting to park in China Bridge and a permit will be required. A $300 permit available for Sundance guarantees a parking spot in the lower two levels of China Bridge and a $75 permit grants access to the top two levels of the structure but does not guarantee a space.
"All we can tell (drivers) is there is virtually no parking in the downtown area without a permit," said Myles Rademan, City Hall’s Public Affairs director.
He said the government is most concerned with people who drive to the city to party and look for celebrities rather than those with tickets to festival movies.
"Sundance has gotten more and more popular and more successful," he said.
City Hall and Sundance are urging people to use the bus system instead of driving their own cars when they are in Park City. Once they drive into the city, officials want the motorists to park in lots 5 and 6 outside Snow Park Lodge in lower Deer Valley, which can hold between 450 and 500 vehicles.
Sundance claims that the Snow Park spots are critical.
"They saved our festival transportation this year," Ruse said.
A shuttle bus will run between the lots and the Old Town transit center on Swede Alley every 10 minutes. The shuttle will run from 8 a.m. until 2:30 a.m. A festival shuttle system runs between Sundance venues as well. The city’s regular bus routes will also be running.
"For years now, we’ve tried to convince people to take the bus," Rademan said.
Ruse said Sundance hopes to carry 150,000 people on the festival buses, up from the approximately 130,000 passengers in 2005.
"We’re hoping they leave their car and get on the shuttle," she said.
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The Park City Police Department on Saturday, May 8, received at least three complaints from businesses in the Main Street core. In one of the cases, a customer was outside “causing a scene,” according to department logs.