SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Utah Dept. of Transportation has approved a gondola to be constructed at Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“Gondola Alternative B,” an eight-mile-long gondola, will reportedly be in “Phase 3” of a three-phase plan to increase bus service, add parking, implement tolling, and build a gondola.

UDOT released the decision Wednesday after years of deliberating and over 50,000 public comments on the issue. This “record of decision” is, in fact, the final step in the process, and makes the construction of a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon official.

“The gondola provides the highest travel reliability, as it can operate independently of S.R. 210, avoiding delays related to adverse weather, crashes, slide offs, and slow moving traffic,” a release states.

UDOT says they recognize the “high visual impacts,” to the canyon, but assert that there will be low impacts to watershed, wildlife movement, and climbing boulders, along with “low operations and maintenance costs.”

Gondola opponents have spent the last couple of years saying 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. Environmental impacts have also be brought up as a concern.

“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 outdoor enthusiast Sydney Stephen in 2022. 

Within a phased implementation of the gondola, UDOT says the gondola “provides the highest travel reliability, as it can operate independently of S.R. 210, avoiding delays related to adverse weather, crashes, slide-offs, and slow-moving traffic.”

UDOT says the project will begin this summer with planning for the “Enhanced Bus Service Alternative.”

The phases will be broken down as follows, according to UDOT:

  • PHASE 1: When implemented, Phase 1 will include improved and increased bus service scaled to meet demand (with no canyon roadway widening), constructing resort bus stops and a mobility hub at the Gravel Pit, tolling, and winter roadside parking restrictions. Increased bus service, tolling and resort stops will be assessed further for Big Cottonwood Canyon in Phase 1. Phase 1 is anticipated to be operational in the fall of 2025.
  • PHASE 2: Based on available funding, Phase 2 improvements will include widening and other improvements to Wasatch Boulevard, constructing snow sheds, and implementing trailhead parking improvements. 
  • PHASE 3: Implementation of Gondola Alternative B in Phase 3 is dependent on available funding. During this phase, UDOT will construct a base station with 2,500 parking spaces near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon where all users would travel directly to the base station without needing to take a bus from a mobility hub. Each gondola cabin would hold up to 35 people, and travelers could expect a cabin to arrive every two minutes. Once the gondola is operational in Phase 3, bus service in Little Cottonwood Canyon would be discontinued.

“Transportation improvements in Little Cottonwood Canyon at all phases will improve air quality, protect the watershed, and increase the quality of life for residents and canyon users by reducing traffic congestion as private vehicles shift to transit,” says Josh Van Jura, UDOT Trails and Group Director and Little Cottonwood EIS Project Manager.

Van Jura says the decision was five years in the making, through “thorough research, analysis, engineering, public outreach, and the careful review of roughly 50,000 formal public comments, more than any previous environmental study in UDOT’s history, to come to this decision.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson is expected to speak on the decision at 1 p.m.

This is a developing story. will update this post as more information becomes available.