UDOT is making it easier for locals and visitors heading up Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons this winter to bypass the on-the-ground safety checks at the mouth of the canyons.
They're expanding the Cottonwood Canyons Sticker Program, in hopes that several thousand people will spend time ahead of ski season, in order to save time on the mountain.
Sean Hansen owns a cabin in Big Cottonwood Canyon. He's been caught in the traffic jams that happen during snowstorms, sometimes from ill-prepared vehicles that don't belong in the dicey conditions.
"You get a block up there and it backs up all the way to the mouth, and clear down here sometimes," Hansen said. "So, it's a problem."
Hansen is hoping to be a part of a solution, and on Tuesday he got in line at the UDOT Cottonwood Maintenance Shed, which will help him avoid lines at the mouth of Big Cottonwood this winter.
Employees performed safety checks on vehicles, by looking over and verifying that each car, truck, and SUV had either M+S or Three-peak Mountain Snowflake tires, plus all-wheel or four-wheel drive, and if needed, chains inside the vehicle.
"Your tires pass," a crew member said to a man in a black passenger car. "Excellent! I can stick your sticker on for you." She reached into his vehicle and placed a decal in the bottom corner of the windshield that said "M+S" on it.
The little decal, Hansen hopes, will make a big difference for him.
"Anything that helps me get home sooner is better," he said.
UDOT said it started the Cottonwood Canyons Sticker Program three years ago, and at its launch, only offered the program to canyon residents and employees.
Last year, UDOT expanded the program to the public.
This year, they expanded partnerships to give even more people access to the stickers.
"We partnered with Burt Brothers [Tires] this year, to make sure that everybody can get a sticker," explained Jake Brown, UDOT Roadway Operations Manager. "So you can go to your local Burt Brothers."
Enterprise rental cars also joined in on the program partnership. All someone has to do is register online and head to one of more than a dozen Burt Brothers locations for the pre-inspection and sticker.
Not only will it help people zip past safety checks at the mouth of the canyons, Brown indicated that it helps UDOT when the storms move in.
"It is top-notch safety," Brown said. "We want to make sure people are prepared to come up here. In the Cottonwood Canyons, several things can change. It can snow three/four inches an hour."
Drivers like Hansen and Michelle Woods are hoping that the stickers cut down on the number of crashes and amount of traffic on powder days.
Woods received her sticker on Tuesday. She's participated in the program for the past three years.
"I love the fact that I can actually just, when you're in the line they already know," she said. "And so you can go faster through the line when you're going up to Snowbird."
Click here to sign up for the UDOT Cottonwood Canyons Sticker Program.