Salt Lake, Sandy file lawsuit against UDOT’s Little Cottonwood decision on gondola

Dec 11, 2023, 4:51 PM | Updated: Dec 12, 2023, 10:17 am

Cottonwood lawsuit...

Emily Warner, left, holds a sign protesting a Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola on Thursday, May 25, 2023. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The city governments of Salt Lake City and Sandy have filed a lawsuit, alleging that the Utah Department of Transportation did not look at the environmental impacts when the department issued an EIS* Record of Decision in favor of building a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

The cities’ respective water districts are also joining in the lawsuit against the transportation plan that includes a gondola.

The cities allege that UDOT did not “address the water resource and other environmental impacts of several proposed transportation improvements approved for implementation in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.”

Petition for Review of Agency Action, Civil No. 2:23-cv-00893 by Simone Seikaly on Scribd


The cities say they are especially concerned about the project’s impact on drinking water.

A separate lawsuit was filed last week by two non-profit organizations. They claimed that UDOT exceeded its authority and “failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act,” when the agency approved an EIS* Record of Decision in favor of building a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

UDOT responds to second lawsuit against transportation plan that includes gondola

In a statement, UDOT spokesman John Gleason said the agency is aware of the new legal challenge. But he did not comment further.  

Gleason also said UDOT will “continue to assess potential schedule impacts to Phase 1 as we work through the legal process.”

What happens next?

KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas said this will likely pause the portion of the UDOT project that includes the gondola.

“I can very well see a judge issuing a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction on the project until these studies can be done,” Skordas told KSL NewsRadio.

The cities are also concerned about proposed road-widening and parking lot projects in Little Cottonwood.

This story is developing and will be updated.

Related reading:


* Environmental Impact Statement

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Salt Lake, Sandy file lawsuit against UDOT’s Little Cottonwood decision on gondola