Utah council to release draft showing gondola’s role in transportation plan

Jan 26, 2023, 2:07 PM

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah — Talks are moving forward on the proposal to build a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

The Wasatch Front Regional Council  — which is made up of county, city and transportation planners throughout the state — is expected to release a draft Thursday of its 2023-2050 Regional Transportation Plan that could include the Little Cottonwood Canyon proposal and open it up to the public for comment.

Opponents say this isn’t a done deal and there’s still time to stop it.

UDOT chooses gondola to address Little Cottonwood Canyon congestion

After receiving thousands of comments from the public last summer, the Utah Department of Transportation chose to move forward on a proposal to build a gondola from the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon all the way to Snowbird and Alta.

Josh Van Jura, a UDOT project manager, said the alternative provides its best mobility and reliability in conjunction with the project’s purpose and need.

“We also took into consideration the environmental impacts associated with each of the alternatives and lifecycle cost analysis in conjunction with those public comments that we received. “

Now in 2023, that draft may be part of a bigger regional transportation plan.

The Wasatch Front Regional Council is expected to release the draft Thursday afternoon and allow the public to weigh in.

Opponents argue the gondola is costly  — at over $1 billion — and is bad for the environment. They’re asking people to come out to Thursday’s meeting and voice their concerns.

Groups voice opposition to UDOT’s plans for Little Cottonwood gondola

“This is really an opportunity to do a gut check and say that we understand this is where UDOT is going, but it doesn’t really align with what the public wants, and this doesn’t align with our vision for regional transit,” said Brad Rutledge with the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance.

Rutledge is concerned that since UDOT has not released its final draft, the WFRC should not consider including it in its regional transportation plan yet.

Those interested in attending the meeting with WFRC can be there in person or virtual. It starts at 2 p.m. Thursday at 41 N. Rio Grande Street in Salt Lake City.

If the committee votes to release the draft, that means beginning Friday, the public can weigh in, with the comment period lasting through Feb. 26.

From there, the council will have a final vote in May.

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Utah council to release draft showing gondola’s role in transportation plan