Walking study nearly done | ParkRecord.com

Walking study nearly done

A City Hall-hired consultant trying to make Park City safer for walkers and bicyclists next week plans to submit a pivotal report to the local government outlining his recommendations, starting what could be a dispute between neighborhoods seeking funding for improvements.

Mark Vlasic last week was continuing to craft the report, which City Hall officials, trails advocates and regular Parkites are highly anticipating. He provides few details about what will be included.

However, Vlasic acknowledges the recommendations will stress connecting locations within the city, linking destinations on the West Side, safety and efficiency, broad concepts that Parkites interested in the work expect from the report.

"Anything that will facilitate walking and biking," Vlasic says.

Vlasic’s team is working from a wide-ranging set of options discussed during a series of open houses, which drew hundreds of Parkites, choosing which ones seem the most likely to make Park City safer.

In a spreadsheet submitted to City Hall and provided to The Park Record this week, the consultants make several key recommendations, including upgrades at the Bonanza Drive-Rail Trail crossing and the crossings on Kearns Boulevard near the schools campus.

According to the spreadsheet, some of the recommended upgrades include:

( A pedestrian-activated red light, replacing a yellow light there now, to stop traffic on Bonanza Drive near the Rail Trail, barriers to force walkers and bicyclists to one crossing point at the intersection and widening the sidewalk on the east side of Bonanza Drive to eight feet. Combined the work is estimated to cost $244,000 and annual maintenance is expected to run $7,000.

( A pedestrian signal at the Kearns Boulevard crossing outside Park City High School and barriers like fencing to encourage people to cross at one location. The upgrades could cost $197,000, with annual maintenance pegged at $9,500.

( Signs pointing pedestrians to a crossing at the Park Avenue-Kearns Boulevard intersection, costing $900 and another $50 each year for maintenance.

( A new sidewalk on the east side of Comstock Drive, which would eliminate street parking on one side, according to the report. The sidewalk is projected to cost $185,000, with another $4,400 in annual costs. Another sidewalk upgrade, pegged at $78,000 plus $900 in yearly maintenance, is recommended on Lucky John Drive east of Monitor Drive. That would better connect the sidewalk to a trail, the report says.

"It’s all of those together," Vlasic, whose firm won a $122,000 contract for the work, says about the recommendations. "Each idea we have fits a specific need."

City Hall agreed to conduct the study after pressure from Parkites who said the city was not safe enough for pedestrians, bicyclists and others not driving cars. They claimed improving trails, sidewalks and other pedestrian options would cut traffic and, by doing so, help the environment.

The consultants are scheduled to present the findings to Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council on March 29, giving City Hall staffers a little more than a week to draft their own report. The findings likely will not be released until the elected officials receive their copies, which is standard procedure.

"I hope it reflects the public process. People came out in droves for this," says Carol Potter, who leads Mountain Trails Foundation, an advocacy group, urging the City Council to "think big" rather than appeasing individuals who want less ambitious improvements to their neighborhood.

The City Councilors, as they consider the budget, will determine which upgrades to pursue and when they will be scheduled. The budget talks are scheduled to run from the late spring until mid-June.

The recommendations targeting Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard are expected. During the open houses, Parkites were especially worried about the two streets. Traffic on them is bad and crossing them is dangerous, lots of people say. Bonanza Drive is the artery linking Old Town and Deer Valley with Prospector. Kearns Boulevard is the main route from Park City toward the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County and is where the schools are situated.

"What we figured is our two big problems are Bonanza and Kearns . . . That wasn’t a surprise," says Jonathan Weidenhamer, the City Hall staffer leading the efforts with the consultant.

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