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More bus stops? Light rail? Park City explores transit solutions for SR 248

The S.R. 248 transit shoulder lane was constructed this summer.
Parker Malatesta
A Park City Transit bus in the shoulder lane of state Route 248.

Park City is starting an 18-month study to evaluate potential transit solutions for state Route 248.

State Route 248 is one of two entryways into Park City, running from U.S. Highway 40 to Park Avenue.

The road narrows to one lane each way as it goes past PC Hill, often creating traffic bottlenecks on busy ski days and morning commutes.

According to data compiled by Park City, S.R. 248 carries roughly 17,000 vehicles per day with peak loads of 2,000 per hour. Population in the area is growing at an average annual rate of about 7%, and associated traffic is forecasted to follow a similar growth pattern.

In 2019 the Park City and Summit County councils formally opposed a plan by the Utah Department of Transportation to widen S.R. 248 to five lanes, opting for a public transit-first philosophy.

On Friday the Park City Council approved a $1 million contract to study public transit solutions for the road. The agreement was entirely funded by Summit County sales tax.

Park City Transportation Planning Manager Julia Collins said the study is necessary to leverage grants for any project the city wants to pursue.

“We have to have federal or state grant support, and this is a necessary step for us to do this, because we don’t have the financial capacity to do it alone,” Collins said.

Park City Senior Transportation Planner Conor Campobasso, who will lead the study, said the 18-month process could yield more bus stops, or a larger project.

“What we’re looking at with this study is we’re looking at premium transit options,” Campobasso said. “This could be anything from… maybe better stops, all the way to even fixed rail or something, if we wanted to look at that. We haven’t picked our alternatives yet, but again this could be anything in between. It could be bus rapid transit on the side, center-running, it could be anything like that. So once we start getting into those higher cost items, that’s where we’re going to need that federal support.” 

Campobasso said federal support could still be helpful for smaller transit projects.

“If we go through this process and we determine that maybe we don’t need such a premium transit on this corridor, we can still go after those [Federal Transit Administration] dollars to fund some of those improvements,” he said. “With the Olympics coming, those are still federal dollars as well as state dollars, so we’ll even need this if we want to access some of those funds for this corridor in the future.”

Over the previous two winters, Park City has encouraged day skiers to park in Richardson Flat next to U.S. Highway 40, where they can take a bus to Park City Mountain and Deer Valley.

In tandem, the city has tailored S.R. 248 to allow buses from Richardson Flat to sidestep traffic in the shoulder lanes, leading to quicker access and happier riders.

However, that solution is seen as a short-term fix, and does not include the fully built out bus lanes that High Valley Transit is planning to construct on state Route 224 as part of its bus rapid transit project.

The S.R. 248 study that the city council approved Friday is expected to wrap by January 2026. From there, the council will be able to move into the environmental assessment phase for any project it wishes to pursue.