Could toll roads be coming to Big and Little Cottonwood canyons?

May 11, 2023, 7:30 PM

Traffic moves in a single lane as Rocky Mountain Power crews bury overhead power lines in Big Cotto...

Traffic moves in a single lane as Rocky Mountain Power crews bury overhead power lines in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. A 34-year-old woman died in a hiking accident in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Friday, May 12, 2023. Photo credit: Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Between floods and avalanches, Big and Little Cottonwood canyons have recently had plenty of newsworthy moments. But that’s not all, toll roads could be coming to the two canyons in the near future.

Josh Van Jura, project manager for the Utah Department of Transportation, joined KSL at Night with hosts Derek Brown and Taylor Morgan to discuss what this could potentially entail.

Brown asks, “So tell us a little bit about kind of what’s going on, and if that’s really something being talked about?”

Toll roads 

“So we are discussing the possibility of tolling,” Van Jura said. “And really, that’s to transition a large portion, roughly 30 percent of those people that are driving their vehicles into a transit-based solution.”

Based on surveys and research conducted by UDOT, Van Jura says it could be in the $25 to $30 range.

“Now, if we have great acceptance of the transit,” Van Jura said. “It could be lower.”

“And so really the point here is that it would be dynamic tolling based on getting that 30 percent reduction,” he said. “And helping get skiers up there in a timely manner, both on the way up and the way down.”

What Utahns can expect in terms of the UDOT timeline?

Van Jura says a decision associated with the Environmental Impact Study will be announced this summer. 

“Now I understand that the Utah legislature is specifically authorized tolling in the canyons years ago,” a KSL at Night host asks. “Why have we not yet implemented that?”

“Part of the reason …. is you need to do an environmental just review,” Van Jura said. “Just to make sure that low income populations aren’t being priced out of our national land forests.”

Van Jura points out that the tolling is going to apply above White Pine or just below Snowbird entry one. 

“So the toll is really focusing on the ski resorts users,” he said. “Because they are the vast majority of people that go up on a Saturday morning.”

Listen to the entire segment.


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Could toll roads be coming to Big and Little Cottonwood canyons?