Carmageddon Returns

Dec 28, 2018

Too many cars – all trying to get somewhere at the same time – created another Carmaggedon Thursday night with reports of up to an hour to drive from Silver Lake to Kearns Blvd. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher has more.

Skiers exiting from Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resorts as well as folks making their way to the store or dinner reservations got stuck in stand-still traffic Thursday and took some people an hour to drive less than 4 miles.

It sounds like traffic you’d find in any urban area – but something that only happens in Park City on the busiest of winter days – usually when it’s snowing.

The perfect storm of snow and a busy holiday week and too many cars on Park City’s one lane roads was too much for the efforts of the Park City Police Dept. and UDOT Traffic Center.

Park City Police Sgt. Corey Alinson says there were no accidents reported – and cars coming from the Deer Valley area found themselves back up onto the Mine Road as cars tried to make their way onto Bonanza Drive.

"It’s an extensive amount of cars trying to get out at the same time in the afternoon. We are trying to help with the cars that are trying to leave town, but there’s only so much you can with the lanes that we have and the amount of vehicles that are unfortunately trying to leave the resorts.”

Alinson says that the city has tried a couple of strategies – but really to no avail.

“We have police cars there as a deterrent from people trying to run the lights or block the intersections, commit traffic offenses when the lights are changing. As well, we have our traffic center that it is in our police station here at Park City PD – the live streaming cameras at the main intersections all the way out through Kimball Junction and to Highway 40 at Quinn’s. Our traffic center can communicate with UDOT and based on the traffic flow in the morning and afternoon, the extent of what time a light is green or red to help with the traffic flow has changed at those peak hours. So, we are doing what we can, but unfortunately, there’s so many cars and only so much time we can cycle those lights to get them out of town.”

However, he said  that having cops stationed at the major intersections does help to prevent fender benders which can tie up the traffic even worse.

 “It does help. We’ve had a significant decrease in accidents and reported calling in of past occurred road rage or people going out and around cars or blocking intersections or running the red lights. We have had a decrease in that – in that aspect, as well as I said, the traffic accidents that block or plug up the intersections  or a lane for an even longer amount of time.”

Even those who chose to use public transportation didn’t help – the buses were stuck in the traffic with everyone else…

“Yeah – if there was a designated bus lane that they could move freely in, that would possibly help.  And those busses, if people are commuting on them, they’re unfortunately right now they’re going to the same locations -to the overflow at the high school or the school parking lots or out to the Richardson Flat area.”

Because the road between Deer Valley Resort and U-S 40 through the Deer Crest development is private, Alinson says the city doesn’t have the authority to open the gates and allow some of that traffic to leave town.