Guest editorial: Widening S.R. 248 is practical solution in a community that relies on vehicle traffic
There has been significant discussion and emotions concerning the plans of UDOT to change the landscape and functionality of S.R. 248. Unfortunately, Summit County and Park City are not taking a practical approach to addressing the need of people to access the various venues, activities and daily needs of our diverse community.
There is nothing wrong or inappropriate for wishing for a community that relies on transit, walking and bicycles for the majority of its travel. Proponents point to various areas in the world where that model is taking shape. Unfortunately, for all of us, that is not Summit County and Park City.
When you drive east on S.R. 248 in the morning, there is a string of cars, trucks, delivery vans and construction equipment trying to make its way into the city. Everyone relies on the people making this trek, which includes domestic workers, resort employees, city employees, management companies, contractors, repair personnel and others supporting Park City. There is no alternative for anyone not on the Black bus route. There is no bus from Heber, Daniels, Coalville or other places these folks come from. Bike routes are not practical in winter, and it is unreasonable to expect contractors, repair personnel, delivery vans and others engaged in a commercial activity to do otherwise.
Years ago, we set out to invite the world to Park City. We have been successful in that endeavor and there isn’t a person living in Summit County who has not experienced in winter the long line at the S.R. 224 ramp or the grueling experience of needing to go to Walmart or other stores in Kimball Junction and waiting as much as 50 minutes to get there. The rental car businesses promote the use of cars to get from the airport to Park City. Wasatch Front residents will tell you “What bus?” when you mention the marathon trek to try and use the 901 bus. S.R. 224 is not going to be enlarged per the county and buses have a difficult time using the bus lane because in some parts of the country our visitors will tell you it is a loss of family pride to allow anyone to pass you, even a bus on the shoulder.
We need to address a short-term, medium-term and long-term solution. Unfortunately, the short-term solution, as long as cars, trucks and other vehicles are the primary source of transportation, is to follow the UDOT plan. In the medium-solution, the right of way for S.R. 248 can be used for other forms of transportation as they become practical. These can include a practical and viable form of public transportation — something still requiring years to perfect. The long-term solution utilizes the right of way for a corridor that accommodates what some are looking for today. If there is one thing we have learned over the years it is not to give up transportation corridors.
As long as S.R. 248 is the access to the grocery stores, high school and other businesses, attempts to ignore the problem will make it only worse. If making the improvements now does one thing, it will improve the air quality by eliminating all of the idling motor vehicles currently sitting on S.R. 248 and provide another practical access to both points east and I-80.
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