IN FOCUS Discussion: Buses or gondola? Alleviating traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon

In Focus

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Skiers and snowboarders know all about the traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon, sometimes spending hours to get up to Alta and Snowbird on Saturdays, Sundays, and powder days. The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) considered 124 plans to alleviate the congestion. Now that list is down to the final two.

One plan is to widen Little Cottonwood Canyon road, add bus-only lanes, and enhance the frequency of buses to the resorts. UDOT estimates the travel time at 36 minutes and the cost of the project at $510 million. The second proposal is building a gondola system, called Gondola B, to ferry 35 passengers at a time from La Caille to the resorts. The travel time would be longer at 55 to 59 minutes and the price tag higher at $592 million.

Josh Van Jura, the UDOT project manager of the Little Cottonwood Environmental Impact Study, joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion. He talked about how long the planning process has been in place for the project, the deciding factors as they cut down the proposals from 124 down to the final two, the gondola option, the bus lane expansion option, and how the final decision will be made.

Dave Fields, president and general manager for Snowbird, discussed why there is a need for a plan to ease the congestion in Little Cottonwood Canyon, why the gondola plan appeals more to his team, and whether they have any concerns about the environment impact that both options could have on the canyon.

Carl Fisher, executive director for Save Our Canyons, explained why they lean towards the bus lane expansion option out of UDOT’s final two proposals, why there is a need for a plan to ease the congestion in Little Cottonwood Canyon, their concerns about the environmental impact, and their reaction if the bus lane expansion option is not chosen in the end.

UDOT is taking public comments on the proposals through August 9. If you’d like to chime in, you can e-mail littlecottonwoodeis@utah.gov, call 801-200-3465, or submit your comments here.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Van Jura, Fields, and Fisher, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie_Nguyen
Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

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