Guest editorial: A monorail is the solution to Park City’s traffic woes
As Tom Clyde opined, indeed transportation improvements in Park City continue to go nowhere. So, for the new year, let’s explore a new idea for S.R. 224 and S.R. 248 traffic. It will go against all you have heard for years. It’s not light rail — it’s a monorail. No I have not binged on year-end champagne ahead of time. Stay with me a minute and try to think out of the box.
The Park City transportation conundrum is created by too many cars, not enough road space, insufficiently convenient or frequent bus service and very few options to change any of those factors. Monorails were decreed old ideas when Seattle decided to follow Portland on the light rail boondoggle. After decades of enormous investment and transportation disruption, Seattle light rail still does not reach where it is needed and impedes traffic wherever it does. Why? Because it is at the same level as existing traffic, it takes away roadbed from cars, buses, bicycles and emergency services and it creates intersections frequently blocked by railroad crossings. Construction requires costly right-of-ways and enormous disruption. Very successful monorail projects in Japan, China, Las Vegas, Disneyland show that we have been missing the boat.
Monorails, compared to light rails require very little ground-level space, minimal disruption at ground level during support construction, can be installed in the right-of-way already owned by the Utah Department of Transportation, are far quieter (on rubber wheels) requiring no noise abatement, and cross any streets without impeding ground-level traffic. So for just one moment, imagine a monorail running at high speed (no cross streets, no traffic lights, requires no snowplows) on continuous loop 24/7 (no driver needed, like at Seattle, Dallas and countless other airports subways), at first in a single direction and eventually bi-directional on the same supports.
Now IMAGINE and take a ride with me: We get on at Pinebrook/Jeremy park-and-ride (no joke), we run over UDOT’s rights of way by Interstate 80 (nothing to buy) to the park-and-ride at Ecker Hill, then to the Kimball Junction transit center, then above the middle/turning lane of S.R. 224 to Canyons Village, to Park City Mountain Resort (yes we go above the golf course), then above S.R. 248 to Park City High School, then to Quinn’s Junction/Park City Hospital, then to Richardson Flats, above Hwy. 240 and 40 to Home Depot/Promontory, to Silver Creek, over I-80 to Spring Creek, above I-80 to Toll Canyon/Jeremy park-and-ride.
We have just imagined serving every entry point of Park City traffic, served two of three ski areas, every major retail zone and existing park and rides. Future extensions could go to Kamas, etc. Smarter cats than me can figure more stops and other details. The key to it is that it is virtually all in rights-of-way that UDOT already controls, with limited ground-level disruption for construction, and runs unmanned indefinitely thereafter, no worry about cross traffic, crossings, snowplows, bad weather. For an experiment like this, the feds would also provide funding as we solve a uniquely difficult transportation problem.
Oh well, maybe I got into a little sauce before time, but it was a nice dream.
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