SALT LAKE COUNTY (ABC4)- With more than 2 million visitors each year, the traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon is a problem that continues to grow, and UDOT has proposed two alternatives to reduce traffic. 

One is expanding the road to four lanes and enhancing bus services. The other is building a gondola that would go up and down the canyon. Both are expected to cost over half a billion dollars.

Gondola opponents say the proposal is fiscally irresponsible and will have limited benefit to the public. They say the gondola only stops at ski resorts and may only be used by people going to the resorts while costing taxpayers over $500 million dollars.

They are concerned about the environmental impacts and say the gondolas will mar the beauty of the canyon. Organizations like the Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance also say the Gondola would destroy irreplaceable climbing resources that help put Utah on the world map for rock climbing. 

“Little Cottonwood canyon is super sacred to us, we spend every day between Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon, and having these places destroyed would be heartbreaking,” said Sydney Stephen who climbs and skis in the canyon. 

Many of those opposing gondolas, including Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson’s office, also don’t like the Utah Department of Transportation’s other option of expanding the road and are instead calling for an enhanced bus option without the road expansion. But supporters of the gondola don’t believe an enhanced bus option alone is going to cut it.

“I don’t believe what was suggested today addresses the demands of today’s population, much less 2030, 2040, 2050,” said Dave Fields, the President and General Manager of Snowbird.  He said the gondola will be more cost-effective to operate, leave less of an impact on the environment and will be a reliable solution to the congestion in the canyon.