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UDOT adds gondola, cog rail alternatives to ideas for Little Cottonwood Canyon

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is looking at whether a cog rail or a gondola system could move people up Little Cottonwood Canyon in the future.

They have added these two options to three others they are studying. The first three options announced in June 2020 were a gondola from the park-n-ride lot, enhanced bus service or a dedicated shoulder lane just for buses.

But after public input, project manager Josh Van Jura said they narrowed 19 other suggestions down into these two new draft alternatives.

“The first one is a gondola from La Caille, and this is similar to our original gondola alternative,” he said.

It would carry 35 passengers per cabin, and a new cabin would depart every two minutes.

There would be 1,500 parking spots at the base loading station at La Caille and people would have direct service up to Snowbird or Alta, he said.

“The cog rail is a little different than trains as most people think of them,” Van Jura said. “It actually has it actually has a third center mountain drive wheel that engages with a third track, a tooth engagement system, that allows the train to climb and descend the steep grades in the canyon safely.”

Van Jura said they have a better range of alternatives now, because people took time to review the materials and provide comments.

“We are really looking for a carrying capacity of 1,000 people per hour for any of the five alternatives,” he said.

They now will seek more public comment to finish the Environmental Impact Study by next winter. UDOT hopes to move forward on the next steps next winter.

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