Utah transportation officials have been wondering how to handle the snarling traffic going up Little Cottonwood Canyon on State Route 210. Snowbird and Alta ski resorts are up there, which draw huge lines of cars up the road in the winter, but all the area is a beautiful attraction that attracts visitors, hikers, viewpoint enthusiasts, you name it.
Yesterday they announced their decision: A gondola that runs from the mouth of the Canyon, up to near the resort of Alta. The gondola would support large 35-person cars arriving every two minutes and take people to the terminus in 55 minutes; that’s about 20 minutes faster than it’s expected to take when traveling by car in the next few decades. According to the proposal, around 4,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year would be eliminated.
Ski resorts and interest groups love the plan. Municipal leaders are not so sure.
“This will allow time to implement sensible, cost-effective solutions like improved buses, mobility hubs, parking improvements and tolls before incurring massive public costs to build infrastructure if other strategies are working well,” said Monica Zoltanski, Mayor of the City of Sandy. , where the gondola would depart. “Now is the time for residents, environmental groups, ski resorts, developers and elected officials to work together to deliver real progress to manage user demand for the canyon we all love and want to protect.”
“I remain very concerned about the watershed and environmental impacts of a gondola system in Little Cottonwood Canyon,” SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall said in a statement. “The City’s greatest concern is that the gondola will create significant risk to the canyon watershed through its construction and operation, as well as by inducing significant additional visitor and development pressure to the watershed.”
Estimated price is $550 million. It is expected to be years from opening, with extended bus service trying to handle the traffic in the meantime.
However, the decision is not set in stone. UDOT is accepting public comments for the next 45 days. You can submit comments hereor email littlecottonwoodEIS@utah.gov.
Photo: Greg Rakozy