Guest editorial: S.R. 248 debate shows elected officials must reboot their priorities
I’ve been following with great interest the S.R. 248 project, but County Councilman Glenn Wright’s comments in the July 6 Park Record put me over the top. Wright’s rejection of UDOT’s proposal to widen S.R. 248 is nothing short of irresponsible leadership, at a time when Park City needs to be forward thinking. S.R. 224 and S.R. 248 are on irreversible overload and it is critical that we make some difficult decisions now.
It is time to reboot our priorities here in Park City. We have been consumed by open space successes, affordable housing efforts and our carbon footprint. Elected leaders are so proud of our electric bus that they have been ignoring the REAL transportation hammer facing us — S.R. 224 and S.R. 248. Doing nothing, as Wright suggests, is not the answer; his stance ignores the need for political leadership — there are no easy answers to transportation and some individuals/businesses will be negatively affected in the process. Perhaps we are ill-equipped to come up with solutions and/or we have the wrong people studying it.
I laugh out loud when I hear the Park City Council say, “Transportation is a top priority!” Really?
Come on leaders, get off your butts and start to fix the problem. This is what we elected you for!
UDOT has exhaustively studied S.R. 248 and given us its suggestion. All you have to do is go to the east side of U.S. 40 and see the development out there. Do we think Park City and the Heber Valley will stand still for the next 40 years? Why did we all come here? We live in Nirvana and other people want to come here to visit or live.
Tom Clyde recently wrote that the UDOT study should probably move forward. If and when it does, a large number of cars will converge at the Bonanza Drive and the S.R. 224/248 intersections. I’m not a traffic engineer or urban planner, but some suggestions:
• Convert Bonanza Drive into a five-lane street with a higher speed zone to connect it with Deer Valley Drive. Yes, that would mean the gas station on the corner has to relocate.
- Create underground walk- and bike-ways.
- Rather than having them off S.R. 248, create alternative entrances/exits for the school parking lots and Prospector residents.
- Redo the stretch of S.R. 224 from Squatters to Jan’s. The existing mid-block cross-walk too frequently brings traffic to a halt. Move it underground.
- Close the turnoffs to the businesses along that stretch of road, and create new access routes to them.
- If necessary, use part of the Fresh Market parking lot (or somewhere strategically located) and create a transit hub. Satellite parking lots could transport skiers and workers to this hub where riders would be redirected to the three ski areas and Main Street.
- Perhaps consider a “people mover” similar to the Canyons’ cabriolet to transport skiers to Park City Mountain Resort.
Sure, these may be crazy ideas, but city planners and engineers need to get creative.
In the short term, addressing the transportation issues we face will be disruptive. But we all have to remember the main business of Park City is tourism. Tourism is what transformed Park City from a dying mining town to a world-class ski resort; it’s what brought us all here and it sustains our lifestyle. We would be foolish to think we can pull up the ladder and tourists will go away.
Both Park City and Summit County leaders simply must move forward, making hard choices to guide our town’s future. Open space and affordable housing aren’t enough.
Phew, I got that off my chest. Come on leadership, let’s go to work! You can’t please everyone, but you have to act before you aren’t pleasing anyone.
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