More than new signs needed on 248
A lot of commuters have been overheating this week as they inch, bumper to bumper, toward Park City on S.R. 248. Many are blaming the excruciatingly slow rush hour traffic on City Hall’s new enforcement blitz, prohibiting drivers from cutting through the Prospector neighborhood on their way to Old Town and Deer Valley.
Critics claim the policy unfairly caters to one neighborhood over the needs of the larger population. But, chances are, if they lived on a residential side street that was suddenly turned into an alternate route for a state highway, they would demand action from City Hall too.
It is more likely that extreme backups on S.R. 248 this week were caused by the up tick in visitors for the Presidents Week holiday combined with the first morning rush-hour snowfall in nearly two months.
Thanks to school carpools, three busy ski areas and a sizeable fleet of nine-to-fivers heading to their Park City offices, traffic has been backing up at the east entrance of the city since Thanksgiving. The new prohibition on left turns at Wyatt Earp Way and Buffalo Bill Drive just exacerbated the situation.
And there is no relief in sight. Those who regularly enter the city from the east should brace for longer commutes regardless of whether cars are allowed to ditch into Prospector.
Park City is continuing to build up (the growth in Empire Canyon is one example) and the Snyderville Basin is building out (the most recent spurt is north and east of the Redstone Town Center).
In order to stave off gridlock and protect residential areas, Park City and Summit County are going to have to do a lot more than put up ‘No Left Turn’ signs.
This week, Park City leaders listened to a consultant talk about some alternatives, including a new S.R. 248/Park Meadows connection that would release some of the pressure on the road in front of the schools.
Another radical idea that has been repeatedly shoved aside is the potential for a more direct route into Deer Valley from U.S. 40. That concept has drawn fire from those who want to preserve the Deer Valley and Old Town Park City brand perhaps with good reason. But at some point they may have to re-evaluate those concerns against continuing to squeeze all of the guests and employees at their new properties through the same old tiny bottleneck.
Park City and Summit County leaders must continue to search for new ways to relieve traffic pressure. In the meantime, they made the right decision to protect kids and families by keeping commuters out of Prospector.
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