LOCAL NEWS

UDOT Considering Gondola, Cog Railroad To Reduce Little Cottonwood Canyon Traffic

Nov 20, 2020, 8:27 PM

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – In the winter weeks ahead, traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon will surge as skiers and snowboarders head to the resorts.

Looking for long-term solutions, officials with the Utah Department of Transportation now have two new transportation ideas to consider as a result of public feedback during the summer.

Both options would dramatically change transportation in the canyon.

“Every year, we’re seeing that congestion build,” said John Gleason, UDOT spokesman. “So we need real solutions that are going to improve the situation for everyone.”

On a busy winter day, more than 7,000 cars head up Little Cottonwood Canyon and traffic jams have become problematic and dangerous.

“Winter travel has become a significant problem in the canyon,” said Josh Van Jura, the UDOT project manager heading up this effort.

UDOT now has a total of five alternatives to study before picking the best solution. People who play or work in the canyon want relief.

UDOT released its first three ideas in June and asked the public to weigh in.

“During that comment period we received over 6,500 comments,” said Van Jura.

People liked those options, shared concerns and gave UDOT two more alternatives.

The original alternatives: an enhanced bus service, an enhanced bus service with a shoulder lane and a gondola from the mouth of the canyon.

The most common theme? “Not only that desire to fix the problems that are projected to occur in the future, but really the problems that the canyon is experiencing today with Saturday traffic, Sunday traffic, holidays, powder days,” Van Jura said.

The new ideas? A gondola heading from a base near La Caille restaurant, and a cog railroad that would depart from the same area and head to Alta and Snowbird.

“Each cabin would hold 35 people and a cabin would depart every two minutes,” said Van Jura.

The cog rail, different than a regular train, would be new to Utah. It looks much like a cog rail operating on Pikes Peak in Colorado.

“It actually has a third drive wheel in the center, and then a third track that the drive wheel engages with that allows it to safely climb and descend the steep grades we have in the canyon,” Van Jura said.

People would get to the cog railroad or gondola base from mobility hubs to be built at one or two locations along Wasatch Boulevard.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” said Gleason. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm when people are looking at some of the alternatives.”

Each of the five alternatives would move 1,000 people up the mountain during peak hours. They range in capital costs from $334 million for the enhanced bus service to $1 billion for the cog rail.

Winter operating costs are somewhat similar for each of the five alternatives under consideration, in the range of $7 to $10 million a year.

“I love this project,” said Van Jura, who is a skier at heart.

He moved to Utah more than two decades ago to spend more time in that canyon. “Literally because of this canyon,” he said. “And this project is going to change the canyon for the next generation. It’s so important to get it right.”

Right now, UDOT is studying the environmental impacts of each of the alternatives. They hope to release the draft environmental impact statement next summer including their preferred alternative.

At that point, the public will get to comment on that and UDOT hopes to make a decision sometime next winter.

The earliest any of the alternatives would be built is still several years away but the wheels are in motion.

Securing funding for any of the projects is still a hurdle that needs to be cleared.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(Shelby Lofton/KSL TV)...
Shelby Lofton

Neighbors in Washington Terrace pushing for ordinance to allow chickens

Some homeowners in Weber County are asking for a rule change regarding chickens.
19 hours ago
Salt Lake Police released body cam video of an officer-involved shooting in July. (Salt Lake City P...
Cary Schwanitz

Salt Lake police release body cam video from officer shooting of a man who set his yard on fire

New video from the Salt Lake City Police Department showed the events leading up to the shooting of a man who had set his yard on fire.
19 hours ago
Several police and fire agencies trained on how to respond to an active school shooter in Magna Wed...
Frances Cooke

Utah police, fire agencies train for active shooter in schools

As we get ready to send our kids back to school, safety is top of mind following a number of mass shootings over the last few years.
19 hours ago
...
Karah Brackin

Annual health report shows that children are struggling to find mental help

A new report shows how Utah youth is stacking up against the rest of the country when it comes to mental health wellness.
19 hours ago
(Wasatch Fire District)...
Madison Swenson

Crews fighting new lightning-sparked wildfire in Wasatch County

The public has been asked to avoid the area while crews fight a new wildfire south of the town of Daniel.
19 hours ago
The scene of the officer involved shooting on August 7 outside of the Indoor Swap Meet....
Michael Houck

Police shot man they say robbed 2 after shooting at them

A 39-year-old man is facing felony charges after allegedly robbing two men and shooting one with a gun on Sunday. 
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
UDOT Considering Gondola, Cog Railroad To Reduce Little Cottonwood Canyon Traffic