Snowbasin parking

Cars line Snow Basin Road on a powder day Feb. 23, 2018. Visitors to Snowbasin resort often park along the highway to avoid long waits for the main lots, but the mountain's operators say the practice is dangerous and illegal.

HUNTSVILLE — The transportation department says Christmas Eve’s mass towing of illegally parked cars near the Snowbasin ski resort was both necessary and overdue.

On Dec. 24, the Weber County Sheriff’s Office towed 38 vehicles that were parked illegally along State Road 226. In a press release, the sheriff’s office said the mass towing was necessary to “facilitate safe travel for motorists and the efficient and effective removal of snow by the plows.”

A storm from the night before had dropped several inches of snow in the area.

Responding to criticism on social media, Snowbasin officials said the sheriff’s office was responsible for the incident and directed complaints to the agency’s non-emergency dispatch line. In their press release, the sheriff’s office said the Utah Department of Transportation, which owns and maintains the stretch of S.R. 226 near Snowbasin, had recently asked them to increase enforcement efforts.

On Thursday, UDOT Region One Director Kris Peterson confirmed that the state did indeed ask the sheriff’s office to start taking a harder line on the illegal parking on S.R. 226.

UDOT spokesman John Gleason said the road had become increasingly harder to plow during and after snowstorms as illegal parking there has proliferated.

“Any time we have a mountain pass area, it’s important that we keep the road plowed and clear,” Gleason said. “That road is pretty narrow as it is, and when cars start illegally parking (on both sides) it can make it very difficult for our plows to get through there. That was the main issue — plow (operators) not being able to do their jobs.”

Gleason said the road must be free of snow for multiple reasons, but chief among them is to allow emergency response vehicles to access the resort.

“It’s definitely a safety concern,” he said. “If there is an emergency situation and first responders aren’t able to get to it, that’s a major problem.”

Snowbasin skiers and snowboarders should expect the enforcement efforts to continue.

On it’s Facebook page, Snowbasin said their designated parking lots didn’t even fill up the day the towing incident occurred and the resort has recently expanded parking areas and increased shuttle service. The sheriff’s office said Monday’s illegal parkings were done out of “convenience” and not necessity.

“We know people are anticipating a great ski day and they want to go up there and enjoy themselves,” Gleason said. “But we have to have the roads clear.”

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/MitchShaw.StandardExaminer.

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