SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — With the ever-growing issue of traffic and safety concerns in Little Cottonwood Canyon, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has identified Gondola B as the preferred alternative developed in the Little Cottonwood Canyon Final Environmental Impact Statement(EIS). UDOT received over 14,000 public comments during the process of the EIS. There is now a 45-day public review and public comment period through October 17.
The total cost of Gondola B Alternative is $550 million, with winter operations and maintenance costing $4 million per year. If summer service were to be added, the annual operations and maintenance cost would increase by $3 million.
“We know how important this study is to so many canyon users, as the amount of public participation and comments we’ve received far surpasses any previous environmental study in UDOT’s history,” UDOT Project Manager Josh Van Jura said.
“With numerous studies over many years as the starting point for addressing the transportation challenges in Little Cottonwood Canyon, we relied on the EIS process of in-depth technical analysis and environmental assessment, along with agency and public input, to identify Gondola B as the preferred alternative in the Final EIS.”
Understanding the construction of the Gondola B Alternative will take time; there is a proposed phased implementation plan where transportation improvements can be included. The plan would start with implementing components of the Enhanced Bus Service Alternative and the construction of mobility hubs. The canyon road would not be widened, nor would there be tolls or restrictions for single-occupancy vehicles in this plan.
For Wasatch Boulevard, improvements will be constructed, such as the widening of the road, snow sheds, the introduction of a trailhead, and parking improvements.
“Currently, UDOT does not have funding to implement the proposed preferred alternative,” Van Jura said. “We are proposing the phased implementation plan to alleviate mobility, reliability, and safety concerns that exist today while addressing the long-term transportation need in the canyon.”
Following the completion of the public comment period on October 17, UDOT will factor in the public comments as the consideration of which alternative and sub-alternative will be selected in the Record of Decision (ROD). The ROD is the final step in the EIS process with the identification of the final alternative with an anticipated announcement coming in the winter of 2022/2023.