Great ski conditions also bring great need for traffic solution
SALT LAKE CITY — A lot of snow so far this winter is keeping skiers happy but it also brings an added risk of avalanche danger.
Those concerns can make it slower for traffic to get in and out of the canyons. The staff at Alta are dealing with that and preparing for the storms to come.
The snow we have received so far this year means you won’t hear many complaints at the ski area, especially after the last three years of drought.
Skiier Aidan Harshany said, “It’s bluebird. It’s rippin’”
“It’s so much better. It’s crazy,” Christian Flessner added. Dan Barron agreed, “Yeah, from a recreational perspective, it’s awesome.”
Even for some who were stranded last weekend, this is not a bad place to be. Toney Civello said, “Been skiing every day. My flight was canceled. I was going to go back home for the holidays and Delta was like, ‘That’s not going to happen.’ But it’s been good because the storm has been awesome!”
The ski patrol will put in some extra and early hours to get the mountain safe and open. It’s all part of the daily balance during the good times of ski season.
“They’ll start the morning at four, five in the morning to get the lifts open by 9:15,” said Alta employee Andria Huskinson. “It’s crazy. We have a 98-inch base. We’re almost at a 100-inch base and we have 260 inches so far and another storm is coming in and we’re not even into the new year.”
The piece they cannot control is when the Utah Department of Transportation is forced to shut down the main road because of avalanche concerns.
Alta General Manager Mike Maughan said, “That generally results in gridlock at Alta for two or three hours.”
Maughan said the closure forces more cars to park on the road which backs things way up at the end of the day and highlights the need for some sort of a solution. A gondola, buses, or other ideas have been floated. “Right now, it’s really a disadvantage to all Alta customers, particular when the main line is closed,” Maughan said.
The Utah Department of Transportation released all public comments on the gondola plan in November. In all, they received 13,443 comments. After a lengthy process, UDOT identified the Gondola as the preferred alternative to improve transportation and environmental impacts in the canyon on Aug. 31.
Skiers have said they’ll gladly enjoy conditions like this and face the gridlock until a plan to fix the traffic issues is figured out.
In addition to the transportation options being discussed, Maughan said he’d simply like to get the cars parked off the roads when the main line is closed, maybe even an expanded parking lot.
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