Salt Lake Resident Gives 6 Point Argument Against The Little Cottonwood Gondola Project

Salt Lake Resident Gives 6 Point Argument Against The Little Cottonwood Gondola Project

Alta

Salt Lake Resident Gives 6 Point Argument Against The Little Cottonwood Gondola Project

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One of the most divisive topics in the ski industry right now is the potential construction of a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The lift would help reduce canyon in the traffic and reduce the risks of driving up slick roads, but there are various flaws to the gondola as well.

In an opinion piece sent to the Salt Lake Tribune, David Scheer, a Utah resident, listed his concerns with the gondola proposal. Frankly, this is a really well-written list that coherently explains the risks of letting the gondola happen. The reasons David gave to the Salt Lake Tribune’s public forum are below.

“1. UDOT’s own criteria emphasize that the preferred alternative must benefit all users of the canyon. The gondola only benefits patrons of Alta and Snowbird and, not incidentally, the owners of these resorts who would be, in effect, receiving an enormous public subsidy.

2. The gondola towers would permanently deface the natural beauty of the canyon, diminishing the experience of all future visitors, including those who derive no benefit from the gondola.

3. The traffic delays and crowds foreseeable at the gondola base will cause many prospective users to drive instead.

4. Better and much cheaper alternatives exist that UDOT has not considered. One would be to implement alternate day access depending on whether a vehicle’s license plate number is even or odd. Another would be mandatory carpooling enabled by an app (similar to Uber’s) to match drivers and riders who would meet at a designated place near the bottom of the canyon. It’s understandable, although not in the public’s interest, that the ski resorts would object to such arrangements for fear they would reduce the number of skier days.

5. However, the resorts, and all of us, must realize that the only way to save Little Cottonwood Canyon is to limit the number of people who use it. This should be done in an equitable way (i.e. not a toll).

6. Finally, it is short-sighted to spend half a billion public dollars on an industry whose economic importance will decline as our snowpack thins. By the time the gondola is finished, it is entirely possible that Utah will no longer be the ski destination that it has been in the past. Of course, the ski resorts refuse to consider this future. Whatever solution is adopted, it should minimally impact the experience of the canyon in case this future becomes reality. If the gondola is built, we will have permanently defaced the canyon and spent a huge sum of money for no purpose.” 

These are all solid reasons. The only ones I would personally add are the costs to ride the gondola(Snowbird has said that they’ll cover costs for season pass holders) and the lack of use the lift would have during the off-season. The only reason on the list I disagree with is #4, as this would probably not be feasible to pull off. With UDOT’s recommendation in place, along with UTA having trouble finding bus drivers for the Canyons ski bus service, it looks like the writing is on the wall for the canyon gondola.

Image Credits: UDOT Cottonwood Canyons, Gondola Works, Greg Rakozy of Unsplash

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