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Exchange Between KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher and Mayor Jack Thomas Highlights Transportation Hurdles

This morning, KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher asked Park City Mayor Jack Thomas about transportation. Their exchange of questions and answers highlights the level of challenge we as a community face in order to start tackling the transportation issue:

Ms Thatcher: Since we only have two lane highways… we talk about “let’s get people on buses” but until it gets too expensive to park or there is no where to park, people are going to take their own cars. It’s almost like you have to pinch them and then they’ll change what they are doing.

Mr Thomas: This is an unbelievably complicated task. The amount of traffic that comes and goes is not just one element. It’s a combination of different fibers of people. Construction traffic… People that live here and work in SLC … etc. Its complex. Kent Cashel [Park City’s Transportation Guy] has been looking at those issues and is trying to understand the breakdown of the traffic itself. Then how do we begin to attack each issue. Is there a way to modify behavior to work differently?

Ms Thatcher: Also some talk about Light Rail. The price tag that was thrown out was $66 million per mile. So, that’s not going to happen. So, should we just move on?

Mr Thomas: I think we understand that light rail development increases development. Light rail increases and concentrates development. $66 million dollar per mile is for flat ground on grade. That’s not digging through tunnels. So, it’s kind of a price tag that an urban community can deal with but its hard for a community like our with so little population. So, we are looking at bus rapid transit. There are two types. There is one called Bus Light which would have buses about the size we have now that would work on the roads we have now … more of them and more stops. That’s about a half million dollars per mile. Or there is Bus Rapid Transit Dedicated Line which is more like $4 million dollars per mile. There are other communities that have done something like that. For instance the RFTA project between Glenwood Springs and Aspen is a new system that has a geography and similar structure and size to what we have here and that seems to be working.

Ms Thatcher: I thought that the word was that they are not using it. It’s a “great system” but…

Mr Thomas: That’s true. That’s the criticism. I think most transportation systems, when they begin, are pretty lightly used. We are exploring all the possibilities. We are not interested in increasing the widths of the highways. We don’t see building more road, bigger roads, is the better way to the solution of the future. Maybe managing better and getting more systematic about the traffic lights [is the way to go].

OK, Park Rag here with our thoughts. This was a great question and answer session. It highlights most of the issues. Unfortunately, we are starting to feel like we are in Transportation Purgatory. We will forever be sentenced to traffic nightmares because of the sins of our past. Sorry, but we don’t have great hope that buses and traffic lights are going to fix things.

Can someone please come up with something original. We heard a guy talking about Zeppelin’s last week. Crazy… for sure. More likely to be successful than tinkering with traffic lights? Probably.

While we wait, we’ve decided to be productive and work on some t-shirt designs.






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