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Park City Council Directs Staff To Move Ahead With Old Town Circulation Study

The Park City Council heard from city staff as well as residents, representatives from local transportation companies and one representative from lodging about the opportunities and challenges of transportation in Old Town

Park City Councilmember Becca Gerber says the council has heard a lot from the community recently about the traffic situation in Old Town.

“We understand that it's become very uncomfortable for a lot of our residents living in Old Town, and we are very concerned about the livability in Old Town," Gerber. "We have also heard from our Main Street businesses that it isn't creating the best environment for them, either.” 

The conversation around the impact of commercial Main Street traffic on Old Town residents has been ongoing for years. The issue generally comes down to what’s referred to as “squeezing the balloon,” meaning impulsively responding to a traffic congestion issue in one area unintentionally impacts traffic in another location. More specifically, in 2009, the city council voted to narrow Hillside Avenue to discourage non-residential traffic access there. Residents have argued that directive didn’t have its intended effect, and commercial traffic on the road has continued to pose safety and quality-of-life concerns for residents.

Gerber says this time, the conversation around Old Town traffic features all the key players.

“Really, for what feels like the first time since I've been on council, we’re bringing together a lot of different pieces of this conversation," Gerber said. "We're really working with the lodging community; the taxi stakeholders; we've done community outreach to the neighborhood residents; and we’ve brought a lot of people in to kind of talk about where we want to go with this Old Town circulation project, and then talk about some less invasive things we can do right away to hopefully make things a little bit better."

Some of those less invasive approaches to traffic circulation and access in Old Town include designated drop-and-load zones on Main Street for commercial vehicles, such as lodging shuttles and taxis; adding wayfinding signage, so visitors know not to go through the neighborhood to find parking and avoid traffic; and increasing pedestrian safety through crosswalk access. Gerber says the city will also look at more far-reaching options.

“Those are some short-term things that we're looking at, and then there are more long-term solutions," Gerber said. "We did hear a lot from our community, and we've heard concerns about Uber and Lyft and Google Maps and how that navigates people through our town. These are things that are harder for us to control, but we do want to take a look at anything we can to help make this process better.”

As in all policy decisions, Gerber says there’s give and take in the strategy to address Old Town traffic. For example, if lodging shuttles have designated drop-off areas, visitors may be inconvenienced by having to walk farther to their destination.

"We've heard from our lodging community, you know, they do have very high service standards, and they do want to be able to get their guests as door-to-door of a service as they can," Gerber said. "But I think they understand the traffic issues that we're dealing with as well, and they have come to us with some voluntary efforts that they're willing to make."

The council was supportive of Senior Transportation Planner Alexis Verson conducting a comprehensive study on transportation needs in Old Town as well as looking into additional wayfinding opportunities, commercial vehicle drop-and-load zones on Main Street and voluntary efforts from the uphill lodging properties.

If you have questions or comments about the Old Town circulation and access plan, you can email Verson at alexis.verson@parkcity.org.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.
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