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Everything Has Its Price … Do We Want to Continue to Pay It on Transportation?

Quick Quiz…

According to Summit County, which group is more responsible for congestion on our roads?

A. Locals

B. Workers living outside the Snyderville Basin and other visitors

The answer is …wait for it… B.

According to a recent staff report given to the Summit County Council, “It’s a common misconception that the Snyderville Basin and the greater Park City area have experienced tremendous residential growth in the past years and because of this, residents are concerned about the amount of traffic congestion. Analysis of Census population numbers indicate that during the last five years, population growth has actually been below the state average; while Park City grew by about six percent, Summit County population only increased by about one percent overall.”

Here’s the money line that brings it all home, “In reality, it’s not residential growth that has led to congestion on our two primary roadways, SR-248 and SR-224. Instead, it’s the unintended consequence of amazing economic and job growth.”

The staff report says during the last 5 years the number of available jobs in the Park City area has increased 40%, compared to 15% increase in the number of jobs statewide. So, our economy appears to be growing much faster than even the Utah average, which is the fastest in the country. Ask 10 people on the street and 11 of them would probably say that’s a good thing.

Yet, when you think about traffic, maybe it’s not.

When we expanded the village at Kimball and added all the little shops and fast food (Del Taco, 5 Guys, Zupas, the ice cream place, Simply Mac, Spectrum Salon, the Barking Cat, the AT&T store, Pure Barre, Spring Mobile, Jimmy Johns, Park City Bagel, and Freebirds) how many of those folks working there live near Park City? Oh, we also expanded Smiths and added on a fuel station. I love my Smith’s Fuel points but how many of those folks drive by themselves to work from Heber or Salt Lake?

Also don’t forget the Hyatt Hotel recently completed on 224, next to Park City Nursery. That was supposed to be a small restaurant and some office space. Now we have a hotel. How many people work at the hotel? How many people drive into the Snyderville Basin to work there? How many visitors stay there every night?

Also don’t forget that a few years ago we allowed Walmart to expand and also become a grocery. Did that increase the number of people on the road? A couple of years ago, we also approved an expansion of Tanger Outlet mall. My guess is that at least 10-20 new shops were part of that expansion. How many cars did that add to the road?

We’ve just approved a new Whole Foods that will be, I think, 30%-40% larger than the existing Whole Foods. How many extra people driving into the Snyderville Basin is that? Oh, and there are going to be up to 10 other retail stores as part of that development.

By the way, these were mostly net new entitlements. Most didn’t have to be allowed. Oh, and yes I know that the County says that the new Whole Foods isn’t an increased entitlement…that it is the same square footage as was previously granted in 2003. If so, it seems strange that there was so much debate about traffic and affordable housing related to something that was already approved and was “the same” as before. I would also bet that if the development agreement for this land wasn’t changed (thus allowing Whole Foods) the dirt would not have been moved yet (or for a quite a while).

I guess, all in all, I’m not surprised that job postings in the Snyderville Basin have gone up 40%.

And please don’t tell me that if we offered offered more affordable housing with bus stops at every location, it would have solved (or will solve) the issue. Even in Salt Lake, where public transit is deemed successful, only 5% of the people take public transportation.

All that said, I think Summit County has achieved what it set out to do — achieve economic growth coming out of the Great Recession. Yet even that seemingly admirable goal, has a price. Now we are learning what that price is.

I now hear that locals are scheming to get a new Trader Joe’s or Sprouts where the old (current) Whole Foods was. They are emailing Trader Joe’s corporate headquarters asking them to come to Park City. Forget the fact that Whole Foods has a lease there for the next few years … and I’m SURE Whole Foods would sublease to a competitor, not. Perhaps in three or four years, when the lease is done, we may see a Sprouts there. But do we really need 5 Supermarkets within 3 miles of each other? As important, do we need the extra employee cars on the road at rush hour?

How many cars have we added to our roads because we allowed more development (that we didn’t have to)?

If I’ve learned anything over my lifetime, it’s that it is easier to prevent a problem than to solve it. It’s seems that in the last five years, we’ve created (or at least heavily contributed to) a problem that we now need to solve. More traffic.

Is this the only reason we have congested roadways? Of course not. We live in a desirable place.

Going forward, even without increasing entitlements, we have so much entitled land that things will likely get worse with traffic. Yet, we as a community need to under the ramifications of our choices. If we hypothetically wanted to ask the County to rezone a portion of land on Highway 40, so Costco could come in, we need to understand what that means. If we elect leaders that want to bring businesses to Summit County we need to contemplate what the downside is.

Please don’t get me wrong. I shop at Smith’s. I go to the quick serve restaurants at the Village at Kimball. I’ll be the first in line at the new Whole Foods. Yes, I shop at Walmart. And I usually always drive my car. So, I get that I’m part of the problem.

That said, at some point, we’ll all need to look in the mirror while sitting in traffic. Instead of bitching about the cars, we’ll need to understand that in some ways we caused it.

Summit County Council Chairperson Roger Armstrong often says that there is no one solution to our traffic problems. I completely agree with those statements. However, I believe we not only need to find a multitude of solutions to our current problems but also find ways to prevent them in the first place.




Genie’s not going back in that bottle. Get out on your bike and you can skip the jams!


I’m definitely in support of the bike option. My only issue is I live up Sacket, which is a huge hill to tackle for someone as out of shape as me :-).

I take your point on the genie being out of the bottle but I guess I look at it differently. To me it seems there are a lot of bottles with genies and we just keep letting more and more of them out. We all would have probably agreed that the genie was out when they added on to Kimball Village but that impact on traffic keeps getting compounded.

Don’t get me wrong, I think people’s property rights should be upheld. If a landowner has the right to build Disneyland on their property, then fine. However, I don’t think we should jump through hoops to allow a field of sage brush (or parking lot), that has had some rights assigned, that the developer hasn’t exercised in 15 years (and probably wouldn’t for many more), to become something that will generate more traffic in the near term.


Big hill, out of shape… sounds like 2 birds with one stone to me! You can cancel your gym membership too! 🙂

My genie point just has to do with the crazy amount of development rights that already exist. I know there was a map and some info in the Park Record at some point…. here we go:

So even if no more development rights were granted to anyone, unless the city/county want to buy the land back or something, there is going to be some major building. We have backup move-the-heck-out plans in place for that if/when it happens.


Kimball is only 3 miles away, on a nice bike path. 🙂

Meg Leaf

Ugh. You’re right, Park Rag. When I saw the Trader Joe’s post, I considered how much my kids actually enjoy Trader Joe’s food, where the ingredients are pronounceable and finite, and the price, lower than Whole Foods. I considered the travel down Parley’s Canyon and the carbon monoxide output spared by possibly reducing it. I do consolidate, of course. Better to leave well enough alone, I suppose. We have plenty right here.
To provide affordable housing for employees not wanting to travel up and down the various canyons, though, seems beneficial, as they make that drive every work day.



I wouldn’t begrudge you or anyone for wanting a Trader Joes, Sprouts, etc. It just never hit me until I read the county’s staff report, and stated counting up the plethora of new establishments, that the other side of economic success is traffic.

I guess I would hope that a Trader Joe’s would replace an existing supermarket, versus adding something new. Then, if that wasn’t possible, I think a a supermarket by the Home Depot may serve us better going forward, since that is where much of our residential growth is going to come from (and the fact that Trailside and Silver Summit don’t have anything close to them).


I find it perplexing that in Park City it is considered a “human rights” violation if a worker cannot roll out of bed right into work. My first professional job required a 4 hour round trip commute along with a car, train, subway, and walking. Many people continue that commute their entire careers. I decided to move closer. This required a 2 hour commute. As I moved into Manhattan my commute was never shorter than a 1 hour round trip commute. In Utah, my wife’s commute to SLC is about 1 hour round trip. She loves it. Drives on a non busy I-80 listening to music each way. But if someone has to drive from SLC or Heber or Coalville to Park City than its just plain awful and something must be done to get them a place to live in PC so they can roll out of bed to work. And let’s not forget all of the gov’t subsidies they will require.


Reread the article. PR is talking about *self interest* on the part of residents of Park City, not some sort of moral obligation to provide housing to anyone.

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