Guest editorial: Expanding S.R. 248 is necessary, even if many Parkites do not like it
It isn’t surprising that there is some opposition to UDOT’s plan to address the traffic problems on S.R. 248.
Road work always involves inconvenience, and it is not unusual for some in a community to object to transportation changes that they think might increase population density. These kinds of objections have occurred all over the country, and in some instances these objections have prevented necessary projects to the serious detriment of communities and their residents. Anyone who has lived in Northern Virginia during the last 40 years has seen the disastrous consequences of the failure to properly address the transportation needs there. It is not unusual for residents there to pay in excess of $400 per month to use toll roads to commute. Most of this expense could have been avoided with better planning when the Metro and Route 66 inside the beltway were built. Opponents of Route 66 in Arlington claimed that if the road was not built people would not come to Northern Virginia. But that was a ridiculous prediction — millions came in spite of the inadequate transportation system.
When S.R. 248 was built, it had a design error that UDOT plans to correct. Instead of being built with five lanes from U.S. 40 to S.R. 224, it has an area of restriction with only three lanes, which causes traffic jams during the rush hours. Relieving this pressure point will allow the traffic to flow smoothly and more safely by alleviating the need for traffic to merge when entering the restriction area. This problem has existed for a long time, and it has been a burden for those who commute to work in Park City from areas east of Park City. It is unfair to these workers that they waste time being stuck in traffic jams every day, and these delays unnecessarily cause air pollution and contribute to global warming. I understand that many who live within the limits of Park City don’t care about the problems of the commuting employees who serve them, and that is particularly true if helping those commuters interferes in some ways with the residents’ lives. But these interests have to be balanced with the larger good of the wider community. Although the local politicians won’t admit it, the wealthy residents in Park City are not the only ones whose interests have to be considered.
An alternative to the present plan would be to also add bus lanes, like those on parts of S.R. 224, as a part of the planned work on S.R. 248. Such an expansion would be more expensive and would be more difficult to build. But it would probably meet the long-term needs of the community as more housing and business facilities are constructed in Summit County and the surrounding area. It would also facilitate better mass transit which will probably be needed in the future. If this alternative is not going to be pursued during the immediate future, my recommendation is that some of the site work for this option be preformed when the two additional lanes are added so further expansion can be done inexpensively in the future.
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