Clyde: Another transit center |

Clyde: Another transit center

Tom Clyde, Park Record columnist

The County is set to break ground on the new Kimball Junction Transit Center. It is next to the Sheldon Richins building. The new facility will have parking for 10 buses, and some lovely plaza areas around it that could be nice if hanging out at the transit center is your thing. Used in conjunction with the adjacent library, the plaza might make sense. The idea is to have a place where several local bus routes come together so that passengers can transfer to an express bus to get into Park City or, I guess, to the ski areas.

The theory is that buses can make shorter, more frequent loops around Kimball Junction neighborhoods, and get people to the Transit Center more quickly than a route that takes a circuitous path through the greater Snyderville area, miles out of your way, before actually going toward the destination. The County also said they hope it will intercept drivers coming from Salt Lake, who will park at the transit center and ride the bus the rest of the way into town. The original plan had parking for 25 cars. The new plan has been revised to have a "few" more, maybe upwards of 35 or 40 parking spaces to intercept all that traffic coming up from Salt Lake. Well, that problem is solved.

The project will cost an estimated $2.5 million, with $1.7 million of that coming from the Feds. The County already owned the land, and the City is contributing some, too. So for what it is, the cost seems almost reasonable by local standards. A Park Meadows remodel. For the rest of the world, spending $2.5 million (plus the land value) on a deluxe bus stop is perhaps a little rich. But if it intercepts all 40 cars coming from Salt Lake and puts them on the bus, thus solving our traffic problems, well, go for it.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, the City has purchased about 3 acres of land along Homestake Road for six million bucks. The plans for that have not been fully defined, but it probably will involve housing, parking, transit, and a flamingo sanctuary. The main idea is transit, so you can ride a regular bus from your house to the Homestake Road transit center, and then take an express bus to the Kimball Transit Center, where you could transfer to another bus that would take you to the Swede Alley transit center.

There have been ideas floating around about some kind of gondola system that could be based at that location. You could drive and park there (the City is looking at more than 40 spaces), and then, through some engineering miracle that has yet to be explained, take a gondola from there to the Park City Resort base. That will surely delight the dozens of property owners whose yards, roofs, and second story windows would be underneath the straight line route the gondola would need to follow. While it could happen, and might actually be kind of cool (especially compared to riding the bus), the right of way issues seem more than a little daunting. There are no cost estimates on that one, beyond the $6 million to buy the land.

A group is moving ahead with the Hyperloop system. They tested it in Nevada this week. It will move people around at 700 miles an hour in a pneumatic tube. The trip to Salt Lake would take 3 minutes. Extracting your pancreas from your sinuses would take a few minutes longer. Maybe the Hyperloop would terminate in the Homestake Road transit center. Years ago, it was the Union Pacific "wye" where they turned the locomotives around.

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It feels like we are spending a whole lot of money on transit without a clear understanding of what a coherent system would look like. It will take dramatic cultural changes before Westerners will adopt mass transit. Intercepting 35 cars at the County’s most dysfunctional intersection seems to leave some gaps. Still, our spending is modest compared to some.

The town of McKinney, Texas, is spending $62.8 million to build a new high school football stadium. McKinney, a suburb of Dallas, with a population of 132,000, just approved a school bond for a total of $220 million. It includes an auditorium on one school, a couple of junior high band rooms, and other stuff. $62.8 million of it will go to a football stadium. The old facility could seat 7,000 people. For a high school football game. Texas is apparently a very strange place. The new facility will seat 12,000 people. The stadium will be used by several high schools in the district, not just one. Well, when you put it that way— $62 million on high school football seems almost necessary.

But will it have a transit center?

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.