School starts in two weeks, and despite Park City Municipal’s efforts, the pedestrian tunnel on State Route 248/Kearns Blvd. won’t be finished by the time the bell rings for class.
The city had planned to finish the tunnel by the time school started in August, but Park City Transportation Director Alfred Knotts says weather and a few other factors have set the timeline back a bit.
“A lot of delays related to utilities; conflicts that were not mapped, which is not abnormal," Knotts said. "Typically, utilities are laid in roadways, and sometimes they're not necessarily as planned—the as-built plans don't necessarily define them, so there is exploration that occurs, and then you find the certain utility, so that's taken a little bit of time. Also, delivery of materials is taking a little bit longer, in terms of rebar and things like that, that go into the actual structure itself.”
The tunnel is replacing an above-ground signaled crosswalk, to ease traffic congestion and provide a safer route for pedestrians from Park City High School to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seminary building on the other side of Kearns. Knotts says the city is working with the Park City School District to alleviate the effects of construction on the high school campus. Knotts says they’ve moved as much of the construction materials from the parking lot as possible, but there will still be an impact.
“Anywhere between 15 to 20 spaces exist in that front row, and that's what we would look to maybe be able to stage there, like we did at the beginning of the project," Knotts said. "But again, that's a negotiation with the school district that needs to occur, because their expectation was that this project would be completed by then, and so was ours.”
While the project wraps up, traffic on Kearns will remain open in both directions, and Knotts doesn’t foresee a significant traffic delay. As for students crossing to the seminary building, the city and school district are considering installing a temporary crosswalk signal, since the original signal has been removed. Once it’s finished, Knotts says the nearly $3.9 million tunnel—paid for with Summit County transportation sales tax revenue—will hopefully make up for construction frustration.
“It'll be a wonderful project," Knotts said. "Much safer crossing; a very beautiful structure, as much as a tunnel can be beautiful. It will be a very well-designed tunnel, and it'll be hopefully out of sight, out of mind once everything is completed. People forget about the pain we go through when you do these projects and the end result is a very, very good project. It's better for traffic, and then, also, safety is paramount.”
Knotts says the tunnel will likely be finished in mid-September, a month later than expected.