Canyon gondola included in long-term transportation outlook for Wasatch Front

May 25, 2023, 9:41 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — A gondola for Little Cottonwood Canyon was one of more than a thousand projects approved along the Wasatch Front for the next thirty years, as part of a unanimously approved Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) on Thursday.

“WFRC’s 2023-2050 Regional Transportation Plan is a culmination of four years of collaboration between local leaders, transportation agencies, community organizations, local stakeholders, and residents. Specifically, over the next three decades the 2023-2050 RTP identifies nearly $26 billion of priority roadway, transit, and bike and pedestrian projects – over 1,000 projects across the region,” said the WFRC in a statement.

While RTP details a variety of potential projects to accommodate Utah’s growing population over the next three decades, the project that garnered the most attention during Thursday’s open comment period prior to the WFRC vote was phase 3 of a plan to alleviate congestion in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

  • Phase 1 (2023-2032): enhanced bus service, tolling/congestion-based pricing, roadway improvements, and mobility hub.
  • Phase 2 (2033-2042): avalanche snow sheds and trailhead improvements
  • Phase 3 (2043-2050): gondola and base parking station

“I’m disappointed, but it is a little encouraging they said they’re at least going to prioritize phase one and two, phase three includes the gondola and we obviously don’t want to see that,” said Emily Pitch who voiced opposition to the gondola during a public comment period.

“What was the point of the comment period from UDOT if they’re not going to listen to us,” said Sean Innis, who expressed frustration after the WFRC voted to adopt the RTP. “I’m a tired taxpayer, a veteran, father of daughters, and it’s time to give this up.”

During the four years it took to create the 2023-2050 RTP the WFRC hosted more than 30 workshops and received over 3,400 comments. Council Chair Dawn Ramsey says that input helped shape the RTP.

“I want people to know they’ve been heard, and we as WFRC did not vote on a gondola today, we don’t have the authority to vote on the gondola,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey says even though the RTP details all potential transportation plans for the Wasatch Front through 2050 it has the potential to change. The RTP is reviewed on a four-year cycle and can be changed based on a community’s needs. Ramsey says a gondola in LCC may never happen.

“If phase 1 is full successful, and phase 2, phase 3 won’t even need to happen in LCC, it’s too soon to know that, but we don’t have the ability to make that decision, we have no authority over that and that’s not what we were voting on today,” Ramsey said.

During Thursday’s meeting at the WFRC Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson spoke in opposition of the gondola being included in the RTP and proposed a substitute motion to have it removed before moving forward with the plan. That motion failed 19-2.

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Canyon gondola included in long-term transportation outlook for Wasatch Front