Park City Council balks at Quinn’s Junction park and ride
Plans for a future park and ride out at Quinn’s Junction were brought to a standstill at Thursday’s Park City Council meeting.
The Quinn’s Junction park and ride was supposed to provide 465 parking spots to the eastern edge of Park City and offer regular bus service in and out of downtown. Now, those plans are on hold for the foreseeable future.
During discussions on the project, councilors Max Doilney and Becca Gerber spoke in favor of the plans, while councilor Tana Toly was opposed. Councilors Jeremy Rubell and Ryan Dickey both said they wanted more information and more engagement with Summit County and the city’s two ski resorts before making a decision.
Park City was awarded a $3.9 million federal transportation grant to pay for the project, and the city council could have granted a $3.5 million contract to construct the parking lot during Thursday’s meeting. Instead, it voted 4-1 to put the project on hold, with only Doilney voting to move ahead now.
Toly’s main apprehension was traffic impacts at the US 40 and SR 248 interchange. She was also worried that buses would only get stuck in traffic again as SR 248 narrows toward the heart of Park City.
Rubell said he shared some of Toly’s concerns. He added that the fact that two Summit County councilors publicly opposed the project earlier this week also gave him pause.
“With all those concerns, I’d say where I sit is I’d like to answer some of these questions," said Rubell. "I don’t want to necessarily get to perfect; I don’t think we have enough degree of information here to make an educated decision, though, so I’m not comfortable saying yes to it.”
On the other hand, while Doilney acknowledged that the Quinn’s lot was not a perfect solution, he said progress toward alleviating the city’s traffic problems has to be made now. He pointed out that all of the alternative plans he’s seen would take several years to complete.
“These are not low-hanging fruit solutions, and we’ve also heard none of them are likely to come to fruition in the next four to five years," he said. "If we kick the can on this one, then I don’t want to hear any complaining about traffic for the next four to five years, because we are trying to come up with solutions to solve the problem that we have today, yesterday, and it’s not getting better. If we don’t move forward with this, we’ll be sitting here in three or four years wondering where all the parking spots are.”
If the contract had been awarded Thursday, construction would have begun this spring, and the parking lot would have been ready for next winter.
City Manager Matt Dias made it clear that delaying the project to answer all of the council’s lingering questions would make that timeline nearly impossible.
“It’s working with stakeholders, it’s additional traffic studies, when they’re going to move the road, talking to the resorts, so I think we have to make a commitment here that we’re going to need a pretty hard stall," said Dias. "That would mean that we will not have a park and ride online next ski season for the inbound express lane. People have to know that, because we’ve got to take the pressure off of our engineering department that’s trying to move heaven and earth to meet that deadline. ”
Planning for a park and ride at Quinn’s Junction dates back to 2016, with serious planning getting underway in 2018.
Park City Mayor Nann Worel said although the project has a long history in front of the council, the majority of them are new to the job, with Rubell, Toly, and Dickey taking office in January.
“You have to remember, we have three new councilmembers, and two of them wanted some more information," Worel said. "They want to get more information from a couple of the members of the Summit County Council. I think that both Jeremy and Ryan just want to learn more about why some of the county councilmembers would oppose it.”
No date was set for a future meeting to discuss the Quinn’s park and ride. The construction bid that was selected by the city expires in mid-April, but City Engineer John Robertson said he would reach out to the contractor to see if it could be extended.