Oct 6, 2022 - News

Salt Lake County and City Councils reject gondola proposal

A rendering of a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

A rendering of a gondola towner in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Image: Utah Department of Transportation.

Salt Lake City and County councils voted Tuesday to reject a controversial gondola as a proposed solution to mitigate traffic up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Details: Through a joint resolution with Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, county council members voted 5-4 to remove the project from the Utah Department of Transportation's consideration.

  • Salt Lake City Council also unanimously voted to condemn it through a joint resolution with Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

The big picture: Though not enforceable, the resolutions signal strong local opposition to the project.

Context: The proposed $550-million gondola is UDOT's preferred choice to reduce cars on a heavily trafficked road used to travel to Snowbird and Alta ski resorts.

  • The proposal also includes the construction of a base station near the mouth of the canyon that will include 2,500 parking spaces.
  • Other alternatives listed in a UDOT analysis include enhanced bus services and a $1-billion cog railway, railroads used to travel steep slopes.

Yes, but: The proposal has received mounting scrutiny from city and local governments and conservationists for its cost and environmental impact.

Between the lines: Instead of the gondola, the county council's resolution included adding electric buses with mobility hubs, tolls and incentives for carpoolers as alternative solutions.

What they're saying: In a statement, county council member Jim Bradley said taxpayers shouldn't foot the bill for "a permanent and risky project like this."

  • "When we could invest in common-sense solutions like electric buses that can also be used to benefit transportation issues across Salt Lake Valley," he said.

What's next: UDOT spokesperson John Gleason invited the public to submit comments on the proposal through Oct. 17.

  • "We have worked and communicated with both Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City throughout the study process, and we look forward to receiving their comments on the Final [Environmental Impact Statement]," he said in an email.

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