UTAH

Little Cottonwood Canyon’s proposed gondola would be different from ski gondolas

Sep 6, 2022, 12:11 PM | Updated: Sep 23, 2022, 12:51 pm
Gondola pictured. Little Cottonwood Canyon might be getting a gondola...
Skiers ride the gondola on the opening day of the 2021-22 ski season at Park City Mountain Resort's Canyons Village in Park City on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON —  The Utah Department of Transportation’s decision last week to support building the world’s longest gondola drew out more questions than answers.

UDOT Project Manager Josh Van Jura said the gondola would not be your average ski area gondola.

Addressing concerns

Van Jura said that the proposed 35-person cabins accessing Little Cottonwood Canyon won’t pose the same risks of evacuations and shutdowns as regular resort gondolas. 

“3S gondola systems, which is what we’re proposing here, function much differently than the Park City system — which is a 1S. And so this has mechanical backup, it actually brings people back to the closest unloading station,” Van Jura said.

The 3S gondola can transport more than 5000 people per hour and could ease congestion up the canyon by 30%. 

Some critics say the UDOT’s proposed gondola primarily benefits Alta and Snowbird skiers and riders. Van Jura agreed but said that because skiers are the ones primarily clogging the road, the best solution is to get them off it.

“If we are going to build a solution that gets 30% of the traffic off of the road, we should target that largest user group, which are resort skiers,”

Why the UDOT chose the gondola and what’s to come

The UDOT chose a gondola as the solution to gridlock traffic and pollution instead of widening the canyon road to four lanes.

It would take up to three years to install a 3s gondola system from the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon to the top of Alta Ski Area.

Van Jura said in the meantime there would be phasing like increased bus service, tolling or restrictions on single occupancy vehicles and widening Wasatch Boulevard.

The gondola is only meant as a wintertime solution, so summer climbers and hikers should not be impacted.

The UDOT is taking public comments on the gondola proposal until October 17.

Don Brinkerhoff contributed to the reporting of this story.

Related: Utah lawmakers react to Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola announcement

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Little Cottonwood Canyon’s proposed gondola would be different from ski gondolas