Guest editorial: China Bridge parking plan not well thought out
The Park City Council plan to turn the China Bridge parking garage into a pay facility does not appear to be a well thought out concept, as it does a terrible job of addressing the needs of the local community. First, what was the goal that the city council members were trying to reach with this plan? A guess is that the goal is to reduce the number of cars driving into town from either I-80 (Kimball Junction) using Utah 224, or US 40, using route 248. Making China Bridge a pay facility will not meet that goal, and does not adequately address the needs of the various groups of users and thus will not solve the problem of too many cars driving into Park City.
Automobile users driving cars into Park City fall into three significant user groups; local/county residents, employees/service workers for Main Street businesses, and tourists. The city council’s plan does not support the needs of local/county residents, or business owners and their employees on Main Street. The real focus should be on reducing tourist vehicles driving into Park City, while simultaneously providing a way for local/county residents and employees to access the downtown area. A rational approach that will meet the needs of local citizens, local business owners and their employees, while also focusing on reducing the number of tourist vehicles driving into Park City would be to designate the China Bridge parking facility as restricted use for city/county residents and employees of Main Street businesses only (i.e. no tourist parking).
Using this approach, residents would purchase annual parking stickers for a reasonable, agreed-upon fee. (Say, $100.00 per year). The stickers would allow residents automated access to the China Bridge garage, as well as access to any city-owned parking in Park City. Employees of businesses would purchase their stickers through their employers. Parking rates for other garages in the City, and for on-street parking would be raised significantly (e.g. $20/hour – with enforcement and towing), as a deterrent for visitors/tourists to drive their personal automobiles into the city. Concurrently, the city and county should collaborate to build free park & ride lots in the Kimball Junction area and on Kearns Blvd near the junction of US 40, with free (and frequent) express bus service to the bases of all the ski areas, and to the transit center in the city. This should have the effect of significantly reducing the number of tourist automobiles driving into the city, while providing assured access to parking for residents and Main Street business employees.
Park City is significantly dependent on tourism, and to be competitive, we must provide an outstanding customer experience in town as well as on the slopes or trails. Service workers, such as waitstaff, bartenders, kitchen staff, or retail staff for Main Street retail stores have a choice of where to work (Park City or Salt Lake City), and the cost of parking under the city council’s current plan may well be prohibitive. We must be able to attract high quality employees, as they are essential to providing that outstanding customer experience. Without it, tourists, who have a choice, will vote with their feet. That could leave us with a China Bridge pay parking deck that is empty.