Last Thursday, the proposed Little Cottonwood Gondola completed a small, yet necessary step needed for construction. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that The Wasatch Front Regional Council included the Little Cottonwood Gondola as one of the thousand possible projects that could be done in the Wasatch Front over the next three decades. This was in spite of many opponents to the gondola showing up to the meeting, which included representatives from Save Our Canyons, Patagonia, among others.

The Wasatch Front Regional Council has the gondola as the third phase of Little Cottomwoods’ traffic solution plans. The first phase, which would last from now until 2032, would include tolling, more public transit options, roadway improvements, and a new mobility hub. The second phase, which would occur between 2033-2042, would add avalanche snow sheds and trailhead upgrades. The third phase, with a timeline between 2043-2060, would be the implementation of the gondola.

Dawn Ramsey, who is the Wasatch Front Regional Council chair, said to KSL that if phases one and two are successful, the gondola may not be necessary. She said the following to reassure skeptics:

“As elected officials, it may not feel like you’ve been heard, but we have heard you. We have a responsibility to the entire region and all of the communities and residents of the entire Wasatch Front, all seven counties, for these over 1,000 projects.”

There are a few important things to note before you get your picket signs out, as this is far from the final step needed for construction. For one, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) hasn’t even announced its record of decision. The environmental impact statement and record of decision are expected to be announced this summer.

What needs to be done after that is the funding aspect. The funding for the project needs to come from the state of Utah’s Legislature. With a conservative supermajority in the Utah Legislature, it could face some hurdles due to it needing hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money. Governor Spencer Cox’s support for it could help out its cause though. Then will come the lawsuits from groups like Save Our Canyons. If it surpasses all these hurdles, then construction will begin.

Feel free to use this meme format if the gondola gets through all these steps.

Before considering supporting a gondola, I want to see the implementation of the additional automated tolling and bus expansion. After that, I think snow sheds that target pivotal avalanche paths could further reduce traffic issues. If all of these critical needs are addressed, which need to happen regardless based on how this past winter went, and there are still traffic issues, I’m open to the gondola.

As someone who lived out in Utah for years, I have a few hesitations about the gondola.  I think with a gondola you would still experience traffic congestion issues, which include reaching the base station. According to Jim Steenburgh, two gondola towers and an angle station are located in the Tanners Slide Path, which saw some major avalanches this past winter. I also question whether the gondola would have helped out in many of Little Cottonwood’s tricky situations over this past winter, which included many interlodges. Lastly, I also see a lack of usage outside of weekends during the summer.

The video breakdown of the meeting from KSL is below.

Image/Video Credits: Gondola Works, KSL


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