Sandy officials looking for solutions dealing with ski traffic blocking roads

Feb 2, 2023, 5:56 PM | Updated: 6:32 pm

SANDY, Utah — There were no problems Thursday morning. Traffic moved along Sandy’s main roads near Little Cottonwood Canyon just fine. But Daniella Belsheim knows it’s coming.

“It’s a little bit frustrating because I take my girls to school in the morning, and then on my way back, it’s completely blocked off on all areas,” she said.

She’s talking about traffic in neighborhoods and on roads near Little Cottonwood Canyon.

On big ski days, when there is avalanche control work being done and the canyon is closed for a few hours, traffic can be lined up for miles. Many cars are blocking roads, driveways, and intersections.

“One day, it took me an hour to get back home when it should’ve only taken me eight minutes,” Belsheim said.

A Sandy police officer took video of the traffic last weekend.

“You’re talking thousands of cars,” said Sandy Police Sgt. Greg Moffitt.

He showed us some of the spots he’s most worried about, where narrow shoulders cause drivers to wait in the lane of traffic.

“These lanes are about 10- to 12-feet wide, average vehicle is about six-feet wide; it creates a really narrow passage for cars to go east and west on this road,” Moffitt said.

The city said that becomes a public safety issue when police cars, fire trucks, or ambulances have to get somewhere fast.

“The time to get up there and having those vehicles blocked causes critical access to a person in need. Whether it’s a house fire or a medical emergency, and when the cars are stacked up like that, they can’t easily turn or move,” said Chief Jeff Bassett with the Sandy Fire Department.

“The more traffic we have blocking intersections and blocking driveways, the longer it takes us to respond to those types of emergencies,” said Chief Greg Severson of the Sandy Police Department.

Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski feels Snowbird and Alta Ski Resorts could help.

“I would love for the resorts to consolidate their visitors and have them group up and have no parking for single occupancy vehicles,” she said. “I would like UDOT to close the road to single occupancy vehicles on canyon closure days.”

Zoltanski said a lot of the cars waiting in traffic have only the driver inside.

“It’s the queuing that’s the problem. So, people wait at the mouth of the canyon from 5:30 to 8:30, maybe 9:30 in the morning when the canyon is closed because they don’t want to lose their spot in line.”

However, it’s that line that has become a growing problem.

For Belsheim, she just hopes that emergency on a big ski day isn’t at her home.

“I wish there was a way for them to put the cars in a parking lot and have them hold there,” she said. “It’s become annoying for those of us who live here.”

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Sandy officials looking for solutions dealing with ski traffic blocking roads