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Final proposals to ease Little Cottonwood Canyon congestion revealed

Posted at 12:26 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 18:51:10-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — The Utah Department of Transportation has announced two preferred transportation alternatives for Little Cottonwood Canyon as congestion is expected to grow over the next 30 years.

The environmental impact statement shows that by 2050, traffic on Wasatch Boulevard is predicted to grow by 45%, and travel time to the resorts will take 80-85 minutes. Those travel times show UDOT that it’s crucial to come up with another option.

“If you’ve ever come up here on a winter day, you’ve seen traffic backed up, many times all the way to Bengal Boulevard and sometimes beyond,” said Josh Vanjurn with UDOT.

That congestion is why alternatives are needed.

"As Utah continues to grow, more people are moving here because of the great transportation opportunities that are so close to the valley," said Vanjurn. "And as more and more people are coming up here to ski and recreate, and just enjoy this amazing place, it’s becoming harder and harder to get to,”

The first of two options is an enhanced bus with roadway-widening in peak period shoulder lanes.

“The bus would leave every five minutes directly to Alta or directly to Snowbird,” said Vanjurn.

The enhanced bus system will take 36 minutes for passengers to get from the parking lot to the slopes. The cost to build and implement this system would be $510 million.

Officials say the second option is a gondola near the mouth of the canyon.

“The gondola would provide service every two minutes. There would be a new cabin arriving, and each cabin would hold 35 people,” Vanjurn said.

The gondola option will get passengers to the resorts in 50-59 minutes at a cost of $592 million.

“Public involvement is key to getting this right and part of the environmental process, so if everybody would please take some time to review the documents, come to our open house, and again participate in this critically important project,” said Vanjurn.

UDOT will hold an in-person public hearing on July 13 with the final proposal being announced in the winter.