Walking study considers Kearns
January 24, 2007
People at the Sundance Film Festival are getting used to Park City’s sidewalks, crosswalks and walking paths.
Someday, city officials hope that the routes are as busy all year as they are during the festival.
As the local government’s budget season is looming, a City Hall consultant says he is readying a much-anticipated set of rankings of pedestrian improvements that Parkites requested during a lengthy study that has included a series of well-attended open houses.
Mark Vlasic, the consultant, says he expects to have the rankings prepared by mid-February, when another open house will be scheduled.
However, Vlasic, in a preview, says Parkites see Kearns Boulevard as problematic for pedestrians and bicyclists.
"Obviously, getting across Kearns Boulevard," he says about the complaints during the previous meetings.
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He says improvements to Kearns Boulevard could range from "very simple to very elaborate." Perhaps a bridge, a tunnel, a new crosswalk or a combination could make the street safer.
"The idea is to control the crossing so it’s not as unsafe as it is now," Vlasic says.
Improving Kearns Boulevard crossings would likely require an agreement between City Hall and state transportation officials. Kearns Boulevard is part of the state highway system, where it is known as S.R. 248, and the Utah Department of Transportation has jurisdiction over improvements. Deals with the state sometimes require extensive negotiations.
Vlasic says Parkites also are interested in improving the paved connection between Old Town and Prospector, including what is widely known as the Poison Creek trail. The trail follows the eastern edge of City Park and then Bonanza Drive.
To move from the Poison Creek trail to the Rail Trail and the neighborhoods in Prospector, though, a person must cross Bonanza Drive, a feat that many Parkites say is dangerous, even with a crosswalk on Bonanza Drive at the Rail Trail.
Vlasic’s rankings will be the pivotal document to date in his analysis. It is expected that the rankings and discussions that occur once they are released will be influential when Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council start budget talks in the spring. In those discussions, the elected officials will probably decide which improvements to fund and what year they will be scheduled.
At a recent open house, which drew about 12 people to City Hall, there were more complaints about walking in Prospector. The neighborhood has been especially upset with traffic and lots of people who live there say the drivers endanger people walking.
Steven Burton, who lives on Sidewinder Drive in Prospector and went to the open house, says he wants permanent traffic barricades to stop commuters from turning left from Kearns Boulevard into the neighborhood. He acknowledges that planned signs barring left-hand turns will be welcome but says drivers will continue to use the neighborhood as a shortcut to the Prospector business district and Old Town.
"There really isn’t anything that is going to solve the problem of not making Prospector a commuter neighborhood," he says, adding, "It’s terrible in the morning and, increasingly, in the afternoon."
People at the open house also had concerns with Old Town, including a comment about the effects the Sweeney family’s planned Treasure Hill development, on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort just west of the neighborhood, will have on pedestrians. "Old Town (not Main Street & Park Ave.) does not have sidewalks, considerations need to be made for Woodside, Norfolk, Empire. It will only get worse w/the Sweeney development," one person commented in a written statement to the consultants.
Another person was concerned with crossing Park Avenue near City Park and the Park City Library and Education Center, a critical crossing during the film festival as people try to get to the screening room at the library.
"Crossing Park Ave. by the skate park is bad. A crosswalk exists but (cars) rarely stop," a person wrote.
Vlasic, the consultant, says people at the open houses also said the city’s trails system, which City Hall touts as a big success over the last decade, are not well enough marked and there were complaints that signs do not direct people to the trails well enough.
He says others want trails and sidewalks cleared more quickly after snowstorms and they want the trails lit better.
Officials say making Park City a better place for pedestrians and bicyclists would, potentially, cut the amount of traffic by providing other means to get between popular destinations in the city, such as Old Town, the schools and business districts.