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UDOT doesn't have resources to plow Marsac during snowstorms; it will be cleared later when snow stops falling

Marsac Avenue Road Closure
Carolyn Murray
Marsac Avenue Road Closure

On Tuesday, the Utah Department of Transportation alerted Park City Municipal that it would close a section of Marsac Avenue, rather than plowing it, ahead of Thursday’s snowstorm. KPCW reports the details about the change in snow maintenance on Marsac Avenue.

The city didn’t learn that UDOT had changed its longstanding practice of plowing a mile section of Marsac Avenue between Prospect Ave and Wheaton Way until this week.

Businesses and residents south of town use Marsac Avenue, including Deer Valley, Empire Canyon, and Bonanza Flat. Royal Street, owned and maintained by Park City Municipal, is the only alternative access to the communities on the mountain south of Park City.

Park City Council Member Tim Henney explained UDOT’s decision to close the road.

"It's less of a priority, and they're basing that decision not necessarily on the traditional concerns but more on their ability to staff and to, you know, get the routes plowed. So, they're sort of looking at their route prioritization structure through a different lens, which is staffing and equipment."

UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason said the previous plow service did not renew the contract for this season. He said they don't have the resources to keep it plowed during the storm periods.
"That contract expired after last season. So, we put it out again, and nobody, nobody responded. One company that came in wanted ten times the amount of the previous contractor. We just can't afford to pay that. It's going to be under our responsibility. We're going to get it plowed--it's just probably not going to happen during the storm. We'll be focusing on US 40 and other parts of to 224 and 248. And then, you know, once the storm is done, we'll open those gates and plow."

Gleason said having drivers use the alternate Royal Street is a minor inconvenience. He said UDOT couldn't spare their plows during a storm, and therefore it becomes a safety issue.

“It's going to take a few extra minutes, and it's not as convenient as it was, but we're not able to get our plows up there on a consistent basis during the storm. We just don't want to take any chances with people that are visiting, or you know, not used to driving."

Henney said labor shortages inconvenience everyone, and this is an example of how that plays out in the real world. But while acknowledging problems this causes to the lodging and resort industries and homeowners associations, he said emergency access is the most critical concern.

"More importantly, it's a health, safety, and welfare issue. What happens if there is the need for an EMS, you know, emergency vehicle and response somewhere that would normally be able to access them through the Marsac road in a timely fashion? And by going up Royal Street or down Royal Street or accessing by some other means, it adds significant time, and a life is lost because of that time."

Henny said the city does not have authority to plow or maintain SR 224 because it is a state route.

“To understand that the city does not have the unilateral ability to get that road plowed. It's UDOT’s road and UDOT will not grant us the authority to plow the road--on certain roads like 248 and 224. The main arteries that come in and out of town.”

At last night’s city council meeting, officials said they want the public to contact UDOT and weigh in with concerns about resident and visitor safety, health, and welfare during the unpredictable road closures.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.