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Park City Mountain parking reservations helped ease winter traffic, report shows

 The parking lot at Park City Mountain Village on Jan. 1, 2023.
Parker Malatesta
The parking lot at Park City Mountain Village on Jan. 1, 2023.

Fewer cars were on Park City streets in the mornings this past winter, according to new traffic data from city hall. The biggest reason - the new paid reservation parking system at Park City Mountain.

Park City Transit buses traveling through the Park City Mountain base area this winter were two minutes faster on average compared to the year before.

Additionally, nearby neighborhoods saw a reduction in traffic this ski season.

Traffic dropped nearly 50% on Three Kings Drive, which is used as a cut-through route to get to the resort base.

Park City Transportation Operations Manager Andrew Leatham said a variety of new measures, such as increased police enforcement and new signage, kept cars from going through the neighborhood.

But the biggest decrease in traffic, according to Leathem, was due to the new paid parking program at Park City Mountain, and the new circulation plan the city and resort developed.

“Buses entered off of Empire and Shadow Ridge, where all the traffic came in off of Empire and Silver King,” Leatham said. “Seperating the traffic there really helped to help load those parking lots in a different type of way, where we were seeing a lot less congestion... So not only did you have the disbursement of traffic in the morning due to the reservation system, but you had a better circulation around the base.”

Leatham said he thinks the reservations lightened traffic during the morning commute into Park City.

“You didn’t have such a race, if you will, for the parking spaces in the morning with everybody trying to get there bright and early at the same time,” he said. “You could maybe go have breakfast, or leave Salt Lake a little bit later, and say ‘I have my reserved parking space.’ And so I think we saw less of a rush in the mornings, where in the afternoon, it’s pretty much everyone leaving the resort and work and whatever at the same time.”

The historic snowfall this winter led to numerous closures of the Cottonwood Canyons for avalanche mitigation. Leatham said on the days those canyons were closed or opened late, there were more cars in Park City.

“People have only so many days to ski. If it’s a Saturday, they don’t want to wait until after 8:30 to drive up the Cottonwoods. And so, on those days I think we did see an increase in traffic coming into Park City. I couldn’t tell you that it was bound for one resort over the other, there were just increases on those days.”

Despite the success, fixing traffic around the city as a whole remains a work in progress.

“There are a few places along Deer Valley Drive at egress that are choke points or pinch points,” Leathem said. “One being Bonanza Drive, as the lane backs up onto Deer Valley. The turning movement from Deer Valley Drive onto Park Avenue. And then the point along Kearns Boulevard where the right turn-only lane at Sidewinder, it disappears, and so it causes a backup at that merge.”

Moving forward, he said they want to focus on finding solutions for those congestion points, especially during the evening commute.