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Westbound Bus Lane Likely Replacement For S.R. 248 Widening Project


Park City Mayor Andy Beerman announced at an October city council meeting the State Route 248 corridor project to alleviate traffic congestion would look much different from what the Utah Department of Transportation initially recommended. Here's what the community can likely expect.

Park City Transportation Director Alfred Knotts says there are three options the city could take with the S.R. 248 corridor. The first is what UDOT listed as the preferred alternative in its environmental assessment of the project, which included four lanes of traffic and a center turn lane, plus additional turn lanes and bike lanes. Many community members opposed that option, and the city council approved a resolution expressing the preference for a solution with less pavement and more transit support. Another option, Knotts says, is to reevaluate and rescope the project, which would cost more money and time—the city has already paid $1.5 million for the environmental assessment and two years of analysis.

Knotts says the city prefers the third option.

"The alternative we’re leaning towards is doing a westbound, shoulder-running bus lane, essentially from Richardson Flat area/Quinn’s Junction westbound into town to Comstock," Knotts said. "And at that point, the shoulder-running would go back into the general purpose lane."

Knotts calls it a more incremental approach and one that can coincide with a repaving project UDOT already had planned for 2021. Basically, UDOT will repaint lanes to allow for more room on the shoulder for the bus coming west into town—there won’t be an eastbound shoulder lane. Knotts says it also complements another traffic demand management project that’s on the horizon.

"We're also in the process of planning and designing a park-and-ride at Quinn’s Junction that most likely, with scheduling, can come online almost concurrently with that 2021 schedule, with the repaving and the shoulder-running bus project," Knotts said.

Still, Knotts says, this doesn’t solve the traffic problem. With the growth that’s projected for Wasatch and Summit Counties, he says people really need to ride the bus for it to be effective. The city is conducting a transit demand analysis with Wasatch County, Heber City, Midway and the Mountainland Association of Governments to determine the need there.

“We have to provide the service to get people to mode shift out of cars, into the bus and in the bus lane," Knotts said. "So we’re really approaching this as more of a person throughput, as opposed to a vehicle throughput. There will continue to be congestion on that corridor without that mode shift.”

Given the public pushback on the original recommendation, Knotts wants to make clear that UDOT has been a collaborative partner with the city during this process.

“People feel like this project was being shoved down their throat by UDOT--it really wasn't," Knotts said. "It was done in partnership, and we arrived at a solution that did solve the problem for the long term, but it's not a solution I think the community wants to accept in the near term."

The repaving project could cost around $500,000 to $700,000 in UDOT funding, while the S.R 248 widening project was projected to cost $62.8 million. Knotts says the city council and mayor need to formally respond to UDOT before the project moves forward.

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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