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UDOT Moves Forward with Gondola B Plans in Little Cottonwood

The Utah Department of Transportation released an animated video in 2021 that shows what a gondola system would look like in Little Cottonwood Canyon. UDOT has decided to move forward with the Gondola B plan. (Courtesy of Gondola Works)


After five years, the Utah Department of Transportation has come to the decision to move forward with Gondola B. UDOT plans to build an eight-mile-long gondola stretching from Little Cottonwood Canyon to improve traffic on the way to ski resorts.

“It took more than five years of thorough research, analysis, engineering, public outreach and the careful review of roughly 50,000 formal public comments, more than any previous environmental study in UDOT’s history, to come to this decision,” Josh Van Jura, Little Cottonwood EIS Project Manager said in a UDOT press release.

According to the press release, the production of Gondola B will happen in three phases.

Phase one

UDOT will include improved and increased bus services synonymous with demand. They will be “constructing resort bus stops and a mobility hub at the Gravel Pit, tolling and winter roadside parking restrictions,” Van Jura said.

Big Cottonwood Canyon will also be assessed for increases in bus service, tolling and resort stops during phase one. Phase one is planned to be operational by the fall of 2025.

Phase two

Pending funding, phase two will include widening Wasatch Boulevard. Other improvements like snow sheds and trailhead parking changes will be made as well.

Funding for the gondola will come in from three sources, according to Van Jura’s interview with KSL Newsradio In-Depth this morning.

“There are three primary sources of funds for transportation projects,” he said. “Of course, one is state-funded, the other would be federally funded and the third option that Utah does have legislation approving would-be public-private partnerships.”

Phase three

The third and final phase is the implementation of the gondola. The base station will be near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Each gondola cabin will hold 35 people with cabins arriving every two minutes. When the gondola is operational, the bus service from phase one will be discontinued.

Response from the community

The reaction to the gondola has been divided for some time, according to Deseret News. Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Senate President Stuart Adams and Sen. Kirk Cullimore have been in support of the gondola. In 2020, Henderson wrote a letter to UDOT stating the gondola was “the most cost-effective with the longest life cycle of any of the proposed alternatives.”

There are others passionate about defending Little Cottonwood Canyon, like Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski and Rep. Gay Lynn Bennion. They have publicly opposed the gondola due to its environmental impacts and the permanent nature of the project.

The University of Utah has a student-led organization with a mission regarding the gondola: inform themselves, inform the community and take action.

Around 15 students meet weekly in the Union for Students for the Wasatch where they advocate for Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Co-founder of Students for the Wasatch Emily Pitsch feels UDOT has not acknowledged the fact-based research shared with them.

“People were disappointed but not surprised by their decision,” she said. “People were more upset that UDOT ignores the public, people who’ve given time, emotion and effort to deliver the facts.”


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About the Contributor
TJ Ross, News Writer
TJ Ross is a senior at the University of Utah graduating in the spring of 2023. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, his dogs and friends. Fun fact, cows hate country music.

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