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Little Cottonwood Canyon's transportation plan

With this upcoming ski season, there is bound to be traffic in the canyons. Little Cottonwood Canyon is ranked a high priority area for alternative transportation. 


Growing popularity of outdoor recreation has caused a surge of tourists to flood the canyons of Utah. Little Cottonwood Canyon has experienced exceptional traffic for its access to beautiful hikes, rock climbing, and incredibly fluffy snow, that many Utahns refer to as POW.

“So we see large volumes of traffic in very concentrated periods of time which is why winter’s so much more difficult than summer for transportation in the canyon. And when you combine that with this this road has one of the highest avalanche hazard indexes anywhere in North America. So when you add enclosures associated with that, . . . there is obviously a conflict there,” says Josh Van Jura, Project Manager of Little Cottonwood Canyon’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

For its high recreational use and economic benefit to the state, Little Cottonwood Canyon has been ranked a top priority area with Utah’s Department of Transportation. A draft EIS was created to provide an integrated transportation system that improves reliability, mobility, and safety while preserving the value of the Wasatch mountains. This EIS proposed several alternatives.

“So the two preferred alternatives that were identified were the enhanced bus with peak period shoulder lanes. . . . The second alternative that was identified was the gondola B option. This would have 1500 parking stalls at the gondola base, and then busing in from those satellites once those 1500 stalls were full. This really provides the reliability component that's in the Purpose and Need.”

This draft EISwas open for public comment until September. Once revised based on these comments, the final EIS will be announced this winter including the final transportation alternative.

Colleen Meidt is a science reporter at UPR as well as a PhD student at Utah State University. She studies native bees in the Mojave Desert and is particularly interested studying the conservation status of the Mojave Poppy Bee. In her free time, Colleen enjoys photography and rock climbing in the canyons.