Trucks kicked off clogged Bonanza Drive |

Trucks kicked off clogged Bonanza Drive

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

City Hall recently prohibited big trucks like construction vehicles from using Bonanza Drive, an extraordinary step in the ongoing efforts to unclog the road.

It is a move that will lengthen the commute of many truck drivers who rely on Bonanza Drive to reach their job sites in Old Town and Deer Valley. Many will most likely be forced to use streets like Kearns Boulevard, Park Avenue and Deer Valley Drive instead of Bonanza Drive to get to their sites.

Officials installed four signs on Sept. 17. Two are close to the Bonanza Drive-Kearns Boulevard intersection and the other two are close to the intersection of Bonanza Drive and Deer Valley Drive. The signs face each direction of traffic.

The signs prohibit trucks with more than two axles from driving on Bonanza Drive. Delivery trucks heading to businesses on Bonanza Drive are exempted from the prohibition. Most dump trucks, big delivery trucks, most construction vehicles and all tractor-trailers have more than two axles, according to Park City Engineer Matt Cassel, an important figure in City Hall road decisions.

The signs appeared as the normally busy ski season is approaching. There are backups on Bonanza Drive throughout much of the year, but they are especially bad during the ski season. The road is widely used by commuters from the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County as well as skiers heading to Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. Cassel said the trucks on Bonanza Drive exacerbate the backups.

"There’s a general thought that trucks create a lot of the problems we have on Bonanza, just because of their size and inability to get through the corridor quickly," Cassel said.

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The signs also debuted while Bonanza Drive is under heavy construction in what is the first of two scheduled phases of work on the road. Officials hope to finish the first phase by the middle of October, with the second one slated for 2010.

A stretch of Bonanza Drive has been closed to traffic this fall, meaning that truck drivers are not using the road regardless of the signs being put up. The road is expected to reopen in the middle of October, when many of the truck drivers will likely encounter the signs for the first time.

Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council are tentatively scheduled to discuss the Bonanza Drive truck restrictions at a meeting on Oct. 8. Cassel said a consultant is evaluating the effectiveness of the signs in the meantime, with the impacts on other streets like Kearns Boulevard, Deer Valley Drive and Park Avenue of interest.

The city engineer said he considers the new postings a trial run for the signs. Important decisions about their long-term use will not be made until at least the Oct. 8 meeting.

Cassel said the Police Department, the Building Department and the Public Works Department have been monitoring Bonanza Drive since the signs were put up. They are the first such restrictions inside the Park City limits, Cassel said, although City Hall has regulated the routes of construction vehicles related to some developments before.

Phil Kirk, a Police Department captain, said he is unaware of an officer stopping a truck driver for violating the signs in the days after they were posted. The police intend to talk to the elected officials about the desired enforcement levels, probably at the Oct, 8 meeting. If tight enforcement is requested, the police would need to shift manpower to Bonanza Drive, he said.

"We’re hoping for primarily voluntary compliance so we don’t have to get into enforcement," Kirk said, adding that letters explaining the restriction will probably be sent to truck drivers like those working for construction firms and delivery companies.

At the Park City Area Homebuilders Association, the president said the restriction will not be problematic for construction crews. Jared Rakisits, who also owns the firm Mountain Country Homes, said he prefers Bonanza Drive be free of the large vehicles anyway.

"I don’t think it’s that big a deal to lose Bonanza. I don’t even like the big trucks on Bonanza," he said.

Bonanza Drive, meanwhile, is the key street in the burgeoning North of Main district, with shops and restaurants lining the stretch of the street as it approaches Kearns Boulevard. Mark Fischer, a leader in the North of Main district, said he supports the new restrictions, predicting hundreds of construction vehicles might be kept off Bonanza Drive each day. He said the road will be quieter and safer without them.

"They’re not stopping and shopping in the area. It’s just construction vehicles," Fischer said.