Tom Clyde: The great game
The new traffic light at the intersection of S.R. 248 and the old Dump Road is now operational. It will facilitate the left turn off the Dump Road on to S.R. 248 in the morning, so all those people in Hideout can get into town for work or skiing. There are now a lot of people in the Park City Heights development, too, and they will be able to make an easy left turn into the stalled traffic on the main road. All our traffic woes have been solved.
There was another new light on S.R. 248 this summer at the Brown’s Canyon junction. That one was initiated with quarter-mile skid marks when people stopped for the new light and the traffic coming behind them at 70 mph more or less didn’t. It seems to be functioning smoothly now, though it’s on a surprisingly steep hill, which will make snowy mornings entertaining.
There were no skid marks at the Dump Road intersection. Traffic was already at a full stop most of the time there, so the addition of a stoplight hasn’t materially changed the lack of flow there. The road needs to be four lanes. I know the city is determined not to let UDOT widen the road (and UDOT’s idea of widening is frighteningly wide). But as long as traffic moves at the speed of the slowest cement truck, adding lights won’t really fix it.
Of course with the new light, it would be entirely possible to implement the park-and-ride concept. The parking lot is already there at Richardson Flat. It’s a little out of the way for Heber traffic. Kamas traffic could take a left at the Brown’s Canyon intersection and drive directly to the lot on existing roads. With the new light at the Dump Road, a bus can make a left turn on to S.R. 248 and then use the widened shoulders/bus lane to whisk people past the morning traffic mess and deliver them to the ski lifts. That could happen today.
It won’t happen this season. The Richardson Flat parking lot is not “world class.” So it won’t happen. The plans for a park-and-ride lot in an equally challenging location between the U.S. 40 on-ramp and the frontage road continue to grind forward. That could happen. Or not. This is Park City, where we do a great deal of planning, but very little execution. Figuring that out before the two resorts temporarily close their parking lots for the hotel developments seems like a priority issue. But solving the life-threatening traffic backups into high-speed traffic on U.S. 40 off-ramps every morning also seems like something that needs attention, and that’s been happening on a daily basis for a good 10 years. If we study it long enough, climate change will eliminate the skier traffic anyway and solve it for us.
I normally don’t comment on letters to the editor. But every now and then somebody comes along with ideas that seem so good I wish I had thought of them. Matias Alvarez had a letter suggesting a sort of grand Monopoly game, where land uses and functions get swapped around to put things in what seems like much better locations. I first knew Matias as a toddler, and probably haven’t talked with him since he left for college. He grew up in Park City. Both of his parents were on the City Council at different times, and had a couple of businesses in town. So he’s no stranger to Park City problems despite living in Oakley.
His proposal was to move the proposed arts and culture district into the existing high school, with the Eccles Center as the anchor. If that’s more space than needed, the Park City MARC could move into the gym space. The Park City School District could build a new high school at Kimball Junction, on the Dakota Pacific Real Estate property, which puts it central to the population of the district. The existing building wouldn’t be disrupted by construction. The current arts and culture district site could become high-density affordable housing, along with the city’s Homestake Road property. Maybe Dakota Pacific could build it. If the MARC completely moved, that land could be developed as housing, in town, on the bus routes.
He proposed moving the city offices to Treasure Mountain Junior High. That seems a bridge too far. The city needs less office space, not more, or they will surely fill it with more staff members who will find more things to study and plan. He didn’t have a plan for the film studio building. The city seems willing to admit that it is not going to be a major production hub, and is considering changing the approval to build housing there (worsening the S.R. 248 mess, but in the sea of density approved in Wasatch County, 200 or so units more is a drop in the bucket). It would also make a reasonable school site. The neighborhood needs a grocery store.
It’s a plan that assumes the city, county and School District would talk to each other, set aside some plans they have invested a lot into, and that Dakota Pacific is ready to give up on Kimball Junction and swap for something more easily approved. But a guy can dream.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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