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Utah strikes ahead with an eight-mile-long gondola to Alta and Snowbird

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Utah strikes ahead with an eight-mile-long gondola to Alta and Snowbird

Written by Xavier— Posted in July 29, 2023

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Featured Picture: Courtesy of UDOT

It’s not on daily basis that you simply see an eight-mile-long gondola alongside the street. Utah Division of Transportation (UDOT) has taken a artistic method to the continuing visitors challenge at Little Cottonwood Canyon. No widening of the freeway right here! A gondola can be their reply to attending to and from Alta and Snowbird. However that’s not all UDOT’s doing to fight ski visitors. Public bus companies are being elevated and parking heaps expanded. John Gleason, UDOT Director of Public Relations, breaks down the three phases of the mission.

PHOTO: Courtesy of UDOT

When did UDOT know they wanted so as to add a further technique of public transportation within the mountains?

In Senate Invoice 277, the 2017 Legislature accredited using $100 million for transportation enhancements in areas with recreation and tourism exercise that at the moment expertise important congestion. With that standards, UDOT established a prioritization course of, and the Transportation Fee recognized 4 areas that warranted additional analysis.

Little Cottonwood Canyon was recognized as a precedence space for environmental research by the Transportation Fee prioritization course of.

UDOT started an Environmental Impression Assertion (EIS) within the spring of 2018 for Little Cottonwood Canyon, with the aim of considerably bettering roadway security, reliability, and mobility on S.R. 210 from Fort Union Boulevard by the City of Alta for all customers on S.R. 210.

Initially, UDOT proposed options for ski visitors, similar to widening the freeway and rising bus routes. What in the end led to the gondola plan being chosen?

Gondolas have been studied for a few years previous to the EIS as a possible element of mobility enhancements for the canyon. Whereas the gondola is a long-term transportation resolution for the canyon, UDOT will handle the transportation challenges of at the moment with a phased implementation plan primarily based on obtainable funding, together with parts of the Enhanced Bus Service Various with no canyon roadway widening. 


When applied, Part 1 will embody improved and elevated bus service scaled to fulfill demand (with no canyon roadway widening), setting up resort bus stops and a mobility hub on the Gravel Pit, tolling, and winter roadside parking restrictions. Elevated bus service, tolling and resort stops can be assessed additional for Huge Cottonwood Canyon in Part 1. Part 1 is anticipated to be operational within the fall of 2025.


Based mostly on obtainable funding, Part 2 enhancements will embody widening and different enhancements to Wasatch Boulevard, setting up snow sheds, and implementing trailhead parking enhancements.


Implementation of Gondola Various B in Part 3 relies on obtainable funding. Throughout this section, UDOT will assemble a base station with 2,500 parking areas close to the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, the place all customers would journey on to the bottom station earlier than loading a gondola cabin. Every gondola cabin can maintain as much as 35 folks, and vacationers may count on a cabin to reach each two minutes. As soon as the gondola is operational in Part 3, bus service in Little Cottonwood Canyon can be discontinued.

UDOT recognized Gondola Various B with phased implementation of an improved and elevated bus service as the chosen different primarily based on its transportation efficiency, value, and impacts on the pure and human atmosphere and, as a result of funding just isn’t but obtainable for the gondola, the power to implement mobility enhancements sooner.

Gondola Various B total greatest meets the mission function and wish for long-term transportation wants for the canyon primarily due to its reliability; it operates in a separate alignment from the roadway, avoiding delays associated to adversarial climate, crashes, slide-offs and slow-moving visitors.

Gondola B has the very best visible impacts however low impacts on the watershed, wildlife motion and climbing boulders. 

PHOTO: Courtesy of UDOT

What is going to the cabin seem like?

This can be decided throughout last design throughout Part 3. Cabin designs permit quite a lot of configurations and seating and standing combos: similar to 18 to twenty seated and 15 to 17 standing or about 26 if all are seated or extra if all are standing. 

Will the gondola be protected to trip throughout excessive climate and excessive winds?

The gondola system may function whereas it’s snowing and in wind speeds as much as 68 miles per hour and would doubtless have the ability to proceed to function throughout climate occasions that might require the street to shut or turn out to be congested due to the dangerous climate. It also needs to be famous that the gondola alignment can be situated on the backside of Little Cottonwood Canyon, which is much less susceptible to the kind of sturdy winds that may cease the Snowbird Tram, which is close to the ridgeline of the mountains.

Throughout interlodge occasions, street entry on S.R. 210 is shut down as effectively whereas UDOT performs avalanche mitigation. Throughout these occasions, persons are not allowed exterior within the higher canyon, and so, to keep away from delivering passengers right into a hazardous situations, the gondola wouldn’t function apart from emergency conditions. 

What number of stops will the gondola supply?

The gondola will present direct service from the bottom station to Snowbird and Alta, one cease at every resort, two resort stops in complete.

Stroll us by the development motorists can count on within the years earlier than this mission is full.

UDOT has recognized potential development impacts similar to air high quality, noise, visitors, and so forth. and the measures that might be taken to attenuate these impacts. 

That is mentioned in larger element within the Report of Choice, Part 6.12 Mitigation Measures for Building Impacts (pdf web page 95).






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