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Deer Valley making plans for gondola connecting Main Street to ski slopes

Posted at 7:12 PM, Jan 04, 2015

PARK CITY, Utah -- Plans are in the works to create easier access from a popular Park City ski resort to the heart of the town’s Main Street.

The goal of the gondola is convenience, an effective way to move tourists, residents, skiers or pedestrians around town from some of the highest peaks to the most popular spots in Park City.

“How can we more effectively move people through town and around town, in to town and out of town? So it really started there,” said Bob Wheaton, the President and General Manager of Deer Valley Resort.

Wheaton is the brains behind the plan to build a gondola that would transport people from the ski lifts at Deer Valley to the center of Park City’s Main Street.

“It was all centered around transportation around the city,” he said. “Trying to be more effective with the bus system we have, and interconnected mass transit not only with Park City but southern Wasatch County.”

Wheaton said the idea initially came from city council and city staff,  and now he’s working on making the idea a reality.

“Where we are at right now is very much in the planning effort,” he said. “We’re looking at different alignments and different options, and right now we have an option on the table that would have a fixed base and would have an option for two different tops.”

Business owners on Main are looking forward to the added convenience it’ll bring their customers as well. Doug Middleton of Main Street Pizza & Noodle Company is among those who are excited.

He said: “With the Christmas season, the traffic was pretty strong going down Kearns Boulevard, and with a lift coming right down to the bus terminal? It doesn’t get any better for people staying out on Prospect or even out as far as Park Meadows.”

An added perk to the Deer Valley gondola would be fewer cars and even city buses on the road. There would be more frequent scheduling as well, with constant lift service from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“We can effectively move people through town, not only to ski but also move some of the staff around and provide an opportunity for people up on the mountain to come down to Main Street for breakfast or dinner and a pretty unique experience during that,” Wheaton said.

Wheaton said they’re still very much in the planning stages, so a timeframe for the gondola hasn’t been established--but, when plans become more solid, they hope to involve the public and create a forum for input.

The cost and how to fund the project is currently being talked over. Wheaton said the Federal Transit Authority could end up footing a good portion of the hefty bill.

“For a lot of reasons, they need to be involved and they also support the bus system in town so they hopefully will be able to allocate some additional funds,” Wheaton said. “Hopefully be able to redirect some funds to make this happen.”