Park City Pursuing Old Town Traffic Plan

Aug 13, 2019

Park City Municipal is conducting a comprehensive study on traffic and pedestrian access and circulation in the Old Town commercial and residential areas. 

City staff recently hosted a question-and-answer session with about 30 residents and stakeholders on possible Old Town transportation projects for the city council to consider. Park City Senior Transportation Planner Alexis Verson, Economic Development Director Jonathan Weidenhamer and Special Events Manager Jenny Diersen are the staffers leading the initiative. Weidenhamer says the city council’s goals of reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips and focusing on transit are guiding the effort as well as the feedback they’ve heard from residents.

"Their goal for me and for this team has been to minimize and reduce impacts of the commercial districts on the adjacent residential neighborhoods," Weidenhamer said. "I think that's pretty clear. Any of you—most of you look like Old Town residents to me—have been worried about livability and quality of life, and our council has been very, very sensitive to that, but they also balance the business interests and business needs." 

Staff is looking at a few short-range projects that Weidenhammer describes as non-invasive—things like implementing one-way, east-heading traffic on 4th Street to create a loop with the westward, one-way traffic on 5th Street, or adding wayfinding signage. Weidenhammer says staff does not recommend widening Hillside Avenue, though a cost estimate for doing so is included in the project list. Staff also doesn’t recommend pursuing vehicle restrictions on Hillside, as they’re difficult to enforce.   

Luci Sosnowski owns local taxi service Grab-a-cab. Despite her—and the city’s—best efforts, Sosnowski says special events traffic mitigation plans make it difficult for taxis not to use neighborhood streets.

"I've really tried with my drivers to get them out of the Old Town streets whenever possible," Sosnowski said. "But on things like Arts Festival, or whatever, you couldn't go up Swede Alley. You weren’t supposed to go up Park Avenue. Where are you supposed to go? You have to go somewhere."

Sosnowski also says Ubers and Lyfts have no regulation in town.

“The Ubers and Lyfts will sit there and they’ll double park, and sometimes you’ll have four cars across," Sosnowski said. "You guys see it every night, and they don't care—they won’t move. You'll have eight, 10 cars lined up behind them, trying to get through. I do think enforcement of that would help. If they get one good ticket, they’re done. They’re gone.”

Traffic on Hillside Avenue has long been a concern of residents there. They say Main Street’s commercial traffic gets rerouted up and down the narrow street, making for a dangerous and inconvenient situation for residents and pedestrians. Former Park City Councilmember Liza Simpson posed a solution.

“I really believe, and the reason I'm standing up here is so that you guys can throw things at me," Simpson said, "is that the solution for Hillside—and the wayfinding comments have been great; we need a sign right by Grappa that says 'no outlet'—is to put bollards in Hillside and make it pedestrian-only.”

Simpson says she walks on Hillside all the time, and she says a 2009 city council decision attempting to correct Hillside did not pan out as planned.

“The intention at the time was that if we kept it narrow and gave a little bit of a shoulder for pedestrians, that traffic would slow down and it would be safe," Simpson said. "Well, that's not working.”

Those who are interested in sharing their thoughts on the proposed projects and policies can email official comments to Verson at alexis.verson@parkcity.org. The city council is scheduled to discuss the Old Town circulation and access plan this Thursday, Aug. 15 during a work session at 4:30 p.m.