COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — Hundreds of people living near the Cottonwood Canyons sounded off during a large public open house discussing proposed transportation improvements. It comes weeks after the Utah Department of Transportation announced two preferred alternatives.
Tuesday night, about 400 people packed inside Butler Middle School to discuss alternatives to improve transportation and safety in and around Little Cottonwood Canyon.
“There are some large price tags for both alternatives,” said project manager Josh Van Jura.
At more than half a billion dollars each, UDOT suggests either a gondola or enhanced bus service in a dedicated lane will help speed traffic and congestion during the winter months.
“I assure you, we do not have our mind made up and that is why we released two alternatives," Van Jura said. "They are so very different for people to focus their comments on."
In almost two weeks, 2,500 people let UDOT know which they prefer. That number is expected to triple during the comment period, which was extended through Sep. 3.
The group "Save Not Pave" rejects all proposals, arguing UDOT is focusing solely on motorists and not pedestrians or cyclists.
Micki Harris opposes widening Wasatch Boulevard, which is in all proposals.
“Is it really necessary when you have maybe 15 days of where the canyons have to be closed and it’s gridlocked? You’re going to pave all this for that short of amount of time,” Harris said.
UDOT predicts traffic up the canyons will nearly double in the next 30 years, forcing drivers to spend 80 minutes or so to get to the resorts.
Van Jura is thankful for the comments and the conversations they spark. A final proposal is expected this winter.
“It’s just too important to get wrong,” Van Jura said.
To get involved, another public open house will be on July 20. Comments can be submitted online as well.