Traffic congestion is choking Park City.

written by: Tony Gill

Park City, for all its charm, has its share of problems—ranging from annoyingly chic B-listers to mine subsidence. But up until recently, traffic was never on the list. These days, even the least-involved part-time resident can see things are coming to a head with traffic congestion, lack of parking and general overcrowding. The issue isn’t surprising given Park City’s appealing location, landscape and lifestyle. Nevertheless, like any good growth issue, the vehicular crush extending from Main Street to I-80 has generated a bumper-to-bumper jam of opinions on who is to blame—and how to fix it.

It boils down to too many cars on too little road space, but neither the cause nor the solutions are simple. Whether you’re a resident, visitor or business, it won’t do any good waiting for other people to fix things. Neither will complaining about those “other” people while pining for the pre-development era of days past. It’s a big issue to chew and everyone needs to take a bite if we’re going to fix it. Here’s where to begin:

  1. Park City and Summit County government get the brunt of public griping, but they’ve already taken some solid steps. The new Electric Express bus runs from the transit center in Kimball to the Canyons to the Main Street Transit Center every 10 minutes. They’ve also invested in an excellent electric assist bike-share program. The initiatives get bonus points because neither spews carbon into the air. Still, the county needs to invest in more parking near I-80 so people can conveniently park and ride.
  2. The city needs to charge for parking to deincentivize driving into town. The new fee-based system at China Bridge is a good start. The town’s resort operators, Vail and Deer Valley, need to follow suit, but they don’t plan on charging for parking any time soon. “Our parking plan is very much the same as it has been in years past, but we encourage guests to take advantage of the public transit options the city and county have to offer when possible,” explains Vail’s Senior Manager of Communications Margo Van Ness. At some point, people need to change their behavior and use public transport to its full capacity, and that goes for residents, visitors and employees.
  3. Perhaps less obvious is the housing component. Increased development has led to rising real-estate prices. Less-affordable housing in Park City for employees means  more commuters. Again, this isn’t solely on the government to fix. Brian Van Hecke of THINC PC, a group which aims to study the impact of and block approval for Treasure Hill and other unsustainable developments, says: “Clearly we need to incorporate affordable housing into development projects and ensure that the businesses depending on the workforce takes some of the responsibility.”  Fixing the traffic-congrestion mess is on all of us. It’s a small price to pay to live, work and play where we do.

Power up Your Ride

Park City’s new bike share program is the first in the US to offer a fleet of entirely electric-assist bicycles. You still need to pedal, but the electric assist motor will make you into a bionic-hybrid who can cruise up the hills from Kimball Junction to Main Street and back without ending up a sweaty mess. The bikes cost $2 for a single two-hour trip, $18 a week, $30 a month or $90 annually.

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Tony Gill
Tony Gill
Tony Gill is the outdoor and Park City editor for Salt Lake Magazine and previously toiled as editor-in-chief of Telemark Skier Magazine. Most of his time ignoring emails is spent aboard an under-geared single-speed on the trails above his home.

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