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As decision looms closer, Utahns raise their voices in opposition to Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola

Posted at 9:13 PM, Mar 23, 2023

SANDY, Utah — Residents like Barry Petersen want to get away from the idea of putting a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“On those powder days, we close the canyon from 6 to 8 and only let buses go up and down," he said. "If that were the case, if it were a bus that was going to go up and get you ahead of all those people down there in the cars, people would ride that bus.”

Discussion of the Regional Transportation Plan that includes the gondola wasn’t even on the Wasatch Front Regional Council’s meeting agenda Thursday. Yet everyone who got up to speak talked about the gondola, and everyone said they don’t want it.

"It's amazing that the taxpayers of this state would want to finance this gondola that only goes up to these two resorts," said Petersen. "How many people in this state ski? How many people in this state can afford to ski?”

The gondola’s estimated cost ranges from hundreds of millions to more than one billion dollars.

“There is a big discrepancy in the money allocated, billions of dollars, in this plan," said Carl Fisher, Executive Director of Save Our Canyons. "And if it's going to a gondola, it's not going to your community."

Even though there are many Utahns who don’t ski, hike or go up into the canyon at all, taxpayers should care about where their money is going, said Fisher.

“People care," he said. "It's not saying, 'Don't solve the problems.' We know we have problems. It's about how we solve those problems, and whether it's happening with us or to us.”

Although they were not present at Thursday's meeting, Snowbird and Ski Utah have been vocal about their support of the gondola, saying that it’s the only way to solve the traffic problems in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

The public comment period for the RTP ended in February. The WFRC will make a decision to adopt the plan or not at their next meeting on May 25th.