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New procedures aim to improve winter traffic jams in the Cottonwood Canyons

Posted at 12:37 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 14:37:15-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Transportation and Unified Police Department announced new procedures to manage the expected increase in traffic this season in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.

With fewer people expected to take the bus and more people driving their personal cars up the canyons this year due to the pandemic, UDOT says the restrictions are all about safety.

“People park where they’re not supposed to, in the avalanche areas, different places, they end up walking on the road causing traffic to go in the opposite lane,” said Jake Brown, roadway operations manager in the Cottonwood Canyons. “So it really becomes a safety issue.”

READ: Multiple avalanches hit Little Cottonwood Canyon; Alta and Snowbird closed

Once the resort parking lots become full as well as street parking, UDOT will shut down access to the canyons.

“So we want to be able to restrict the canyon access for a couple hours until people ski, get their runs in, leave in the afternoon, then the canyon will be back open and the restrictions will be let off,” Brown said.

You can check the ski resort websites to see if a parking lot is full.

“We’re going to try and project like the parking lot will be full at 10:30 a.m. or parking lots will open back up at two,” Andria Huskinson with Alta said. “So we’re just really encouraging people to check our website before you come up.”

If you live in one of the canyons, you’ll be allowed up but, if the roads are open.

READ: FOX 13 News 360: Three options for fixing winter congestion in Little Cottonwood Canyon

For the second year, UDOT is doing the sticker program to help with congestion at the mouth of the canyons. The sticker tells UDOT that that car has the proper tires to make it up the canyon.

“When we see that sticker, we know that car has already been checked,” Brown said. “And so we have a way of move on to keep people going and then will check the cars that don’t have stickers.”

This year’s allotment of stickers has already been claimed. If you’d like to check tire requirements for the canyon or learn more about the restrictions, visit UDOT’s Cottonwood Canyons website.

More information on the sticker program, traction law and uphill traffic restrictions can be found on the UDOT Cottonwood Canyons website.

Travelers are also encouraged to plan ahead by checking the UDOT Traffic App before heading up the Cottonwood Canyons. UDOT also advises drivers to adjust travel to off-peak days and times where possible.