Tom Clyde: The Quinn’s Junction Park and Ride – or something
The first dusting of high-elevation snow has us all anticipating the change in season. That can only mean one thing: Gridlock on S.R. 248 is only a couple of months away.
The City is on it, in their ponderous way, trying to figure out the solution to too many cars trying to get into town at the same time every morning. The County is helping out by approving additional high density housing at Silver Creek Village and now with the proposed 1,300 residential units at the Tech Park. Nothing will solve the traffic problem like increasing traffic.
Last year the city hired an engineering company to study possible locations for a park and ride lot at Quinns Junction. There were three sites studied: The existing lot at Richardson Flat, and two UDOT-owned parcels on either side of 248, just east of U.S. 40. After burning $418,000, the consultant’s “Technical Memo” dated Aug. 7, 2019, came to the obvious conclusion that the UDOT property to the north of 248 was the best location (Surely this can’t be the full scope of work at that price). The southern UDOT parcel didn’t work at all because UDOT is planning to widen the off ramp and needs the property, and the rest of that site is a storm water detention pond.
Richardson Flat won’t work because it’s out on Richardson Flat. It’s already there and we know it doesn’t work. You can’t get there from anywhere. The access is terrible, circuitous, and hard to find. When you get there, the parking lot itself is surrounded by mine waste. The only question about the Richardson Flat lot is why they built it in the first place.
There are other options that weren’t studied. They could use the existing traffic light at Round Valley Drive, and build the parking lot on either side of 248 at that point. The dog park could be moved, or the place where they dump the snow that gets trucked out of town could be relocated — there’s a use for Richardson Flat. But those sites weren’t considered. The dog park is holy ground around here. So the consultant recommended the patch of ground between Highway 40 and the Frontage Road to the east.
That site works pretty well. It has utilities available in the street in front of it. Access is good, though not perfect. There’s already a chaotic traffic scramble there as people position themselves to turn onto the frontage road, get to the right lane for turning onto northbound Highway 40, or figure out which of the two lanes on 248 has the fewest dump trucks in it. It would take some work to deal with an additional flow of cross-traffic on 248 as people coming from Heber try to access the parking lot. I smell another roundabout.
The Technical Memo is long on the “park” part of “park and ride” and very short on the “ride” part of it. Nobody is saying exactly how we get from our remotely parked cars to our destinations in town. It’s not even clear who the intended users would be. Is this for commuters, day skiers, or special event people? The needs of each are a little different. There’s a lot of emphasis in the report on the linkage to the Rail Trail, and there is a bike share facility shown on the plan. The assumption seems to be that we will park there and, in the peak winter season, ride an electric bike into town, with our skis, boots, and whatever else dangling. That ought to make traffic flow on Deer Valley Drive interesting.
The consultant frets about getting bikes safely across the Frontage Road to connect to the Rail Trail, and proposes a $250,000 bridge. Then the report completely ignores the existing, life threatening Rail Trail crossing of 248, which would be part of the route into town. I’m going to stick my neck out and bet that bikes aren’t the answer.
There’s also a place for Uber/Lyft pick up and drop off. You would park your car and get into somebody else’s car (which will be doing laps all morning) to shuttle into town. It may save a parking place in town, but it actually increases traffic. So would autonomous vehicles doing laps. The report suggests that people will meet up at the remote lot and carpool into town. That could happen, especially if it cost $20 to park at the ski areas. What the report doesn’t address is what level of bus service would be necessary to make this a viable option, what it would cost, and whether the City or the ski resorts should pay for that bus service.
I’m the target user of this system. $418,000 later, I still have no clear depiction of how it would work.
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.
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