2. UDOT News

UDOT Announces New Draft Transportation Alternatives Under Consideration for Little Cottonwood Canyon

New alternatives developed from input during public comment period

As a result of public feedback, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) announced the addition of two new draft transportation alternatives as part of the Little Cottonwood Canyon Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

The two new alternatives are a gondola from La Caille and cog rail from La Caille. The new alternatives were developed from the more than 6,500 public comments and will be carried forward for further evaluation in the Draft EIS.

The two alternatives join the three previously identified in June 2020 (enhanced bus service, enhanced bus service in a dedicated shoulder lane, and a gondola). The five proposed alternatives, which include some concepts that have never been done before in the state, will be studied further and have the potential to dramatically change transportation within the canyon.

“Public comment is so essential to everything we do, because we develop better solutions when we work together,” UDOT Project Manager Josh Van Jura said. “This level of public participation is terrific to see. It proves just how important these canyons are to our quality of life.”

One new alternative is a gondola from La Caille that would include a base station and 1,500-space parking structure at a proposed development on the west side of North Little Cottonwood Road at La Caille. Visitors would be able to park at the La Caille base station and board the gondola for direct service to Snowbird and Alta.

The other alternative proposes a cog rail from La Caille, which would include a diesel-powered train with a cogwheel on a track underneath, providing traction for ascending steep slopes. A station would be located at the same location with the same parking structure and improvements to North Little Cottonwood Road as proposed for the gondola station at La Caille. The cog rail would also offer direct service to Snowbird and Alta.

In addition, today UDOT also added minor revisions for the three previously identified alternatives including revised cost estimates to all three and adding snowsheds and a second mobility hub to the gondola at Little Cottonwood Canyon park-and-ride alternative.

During the public comment period last summer, an additional 19 concepts were proposed. These concepts were evaluated based on their ability to improve transportation in Little Cottonwood Canyon, their feasibility, and a preliminary review of environmental impacts using the same criteria as the three alternatives announced earlier this year. Based on those criteria, the list of 19 concepts was pared down to the two additional draft alternatives announced today.

For more information on the Little Cottonwood Canyon EIS and a short video describing the five alternatives, visit the project website at littlecottonwoodeis.udot.utah.gov/. Members of the public can review the draft alternative documents on the project website at littlecottonwoodeis.udot.utah.gov/draft-alternatives.

The Little Cottonwood Canyon EIS was initiated in 2018 by UDOT in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and Utah Transit Authority. Following the public review of these draft alternatives, next steps in the study will include identifying a preferred alternative in the Draft EIS, followed by the final EIS and Record of Decision, which is expected to be complete by winter 2021/2022.

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