Last Wednesday, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) announced that they viewed the construction of a gondola as the preferred alternative to solving Little Cottonwood Canyons’ traffic woes. The new gondola is estimated to cost at least $550 million and will have stops at Snowbird and Alta. In the meantime, UDOT is considering restrictions on single-use vehicles, adding tolling to the road, and increasing bus service. UDOT is taking public comments until October 17th. In the meantime, here are some more details about the gondola project.
UDOT Tries To Quell Capacity Fears: One of the concerns among skeptics is that the gondola won’t carry enough people up the slopes, and would feature long lines of its own. KSL News Radio interviewed UDOT Project Manager Josh Van Jura to allow him to explain what the new gondola will be like. The new gondola will feature thirty-five-person cabins that could arrive every two minutes, possibly reducing congestion by 30%. The construction process for this new gondola will apparently take three years.
Josh explained how this new lift would be more reliable than the traditional gondola:
“3S gondola systems, which is what we’re proposing here, function much differently than the Park City system — which is a 1S. And so this has mechanical backup, it actually brings people back to the closest unloading station.”
One concerning section of the article in my opinion is one sentence describing the gondola’s usage during the summertime.
“The gondola is only meant as a wintertime solution, so summer climbers and hikers should not be impacted.”
This makes it sound like the gondola would only operate during ski season, and be a part-time attraction at most during the summer.
Alta Responds To Gondola Decision: For the Gondola Works project, Alta has been the silent partner, staying relatively quiet on the new lift compared to Snowbird. The gondola would have its final unloading station at Alta, with its tentative location being set between the Wildcat and Albion base areas.
FOX 13 Utah caught up with Mike Maughn, who is the General Manager of Alta, who voiced his support for the project. He explained Alta’s reasoning by showing the importance that public transportation has on one of Salt Lake City’s most popular nightlife choices(at least it was until they traded away their All-Stars): going to Utah Jazz games.
“Suppose you’re going to a Jazz game… and public transportation is facilitating them to get to and from the Jazz game. Similarly, we’re providing a recreational opportunity for people to recreate in the mountains and public transportation is a way to facilitate that [crowd] coming here.”
He also noted that busses only carry 3% of his guests up to the ski area, so doubling bus capacity would improve the situation by that much. So ultimately, a new method needs to be created to get single-use vehicles off the road.
Snowbird Owns The Land That Will Become The Gondola Base Terminal: The base terminal to the eight-mile gondola would be located right next to SR-210, which is the state highway that goes up Little Cottonwood Canyon.