Utah transportation officials push for Little Cottonwood Gondola

State transportation officials are recommending a controversial $550 million gondola to ease traffic congestion in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

  • But first they want to try adding buses.

What is happening: The Utah Department of Transportation released its analysis of various traffic reduction options on Wednesday, with the gondola as the top choice.

  • The report also looked at plans to build a new bus or train lane on the north side of the canyon.

The other side: Local officials and conservation groups say the gondola will be an eyesore and amounts to a taxpayer subsidy for lucrative ski resorts.

  • They also raised concerns about the impact of construction in the watershed on drinking water.

Details: The gondola would run from North Cottonwood Canyon Road near LaCaille Restaurant to Snowbird and Alta.

  • The parking structure at the base would house 2,500 cars.
  • It would still take nearly an hour to climb the canyon, UDOT predicted.

Yes, but: There is no funding yet, so UDOT recommends an “enhanced” ski bus service first, with buses leaving every five minutes during peak hours, from the gravel pit on the boulevard Wasatch and 9400 S. Highland Dr.

  • This would roughly triple the frequency of buses, which previously ran at 15-minute intervals.

Between the lines: A toll of $25 to $30 during rush hour would be needed to persuade at least 30% of drivers to switch to public transit, Little Cottonwood traffic planner Josh Van Jura said in a video. information.

  • The tolls were popular with the more than 13,000 people who commented during the study.
  • Big and Little Cottonwood canyons should probably be tolled so Big Cottonwood doesn’t get overrun.

By the numbers: Traffic at Little Cottonwood frequently exceeds 10,000 cars a day, so the gondola would only handle about a quarter of that traffic – and the share will decline as traffic gets heavier.

  • Simply adding additional buses – the cheapest option – will cost $355 million, according to UDOT, plus $14 million to operate and maintain them.
  • Adding a lane for extra buses produced the fastest travel time of any option studied by UDOT – but local leaders also objected.

And after: The UDOT accepts public comments from September 2 to October 2. 17 and hopes to make a final decision this winter.

What they say : “Let’s invest in electric buses and regional transport hubs throughout the valley. These initiatives can make a difference. So drop your comment, carpool and ride the bus this winter, and prevent the gondola,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. tweeted Wednesday.

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