Save Little Cottonwood Canyon

Support the Gondola Plus La Caille Base Station

Situation — Little Cottonwood Canyon is in Danger

The growth in the Salt Lake Valley has brought along with it increased mountain recreation, particularly in beautiful Little Cottonwood Canyon. The year-round transit challenge is the result of avalanches, landslides and auto and bus congestion.  With UDOT’s proposed zero emission, high-capacity, sustainable gondola PLUS the proposed LA CAILLE BASE STATION, now is our chance to preserve Little Cottonwood’s mountain access for future generations.


 

traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon and avalanche map

The Facts:

  • Little Cottonwood Canyon welcomes over 1 million visitors year-round, and the number is growing every year.
  • Year-round, Little Cottonwood Canyon visitors enjoy unparalleled access to some of Utah’s greatest outdoor attractions, including hiking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding and more.
  • Up to 7,000 vehicles (cars, trucks and buses) go up and down Little Cottonwood Canyon per day.
  • These vehicles produce 70 tons of carbon.
  • SR 210 is the most avalanche prone highway in North America with 64 active avalanche paths. Costly snow sheds would create a 3,100-foot cement tunnel that addresses three of these avalanche paths.
  • Many of the most significant traffic delays are related to traction due to heavy snowfall.
  • Extended road closures due to significant snowstorms create an unsafe lack of egress from Little Cottonwood Canyon. Only the gondola addresses this important safety consideration.
  • A gondola would allow Little Cottonwood Canyon ingress and egress in all weather conditions, even if the highway was temporarily closed to vehicles.

Opportunity — Secure Greater Access for the Future

UDOT is reviewing several transportation solutions for Little Cottonwood Canyon. Gondola Works supports the UDOT gondola option PLUS the proposed LA CAILLE BASE STATION. The gondola PLUS LA CAILLE BASE STATION would eliminate the need to widen the road or add tunnels.

The most recent public comment period in June 2020 to review UDOT’s three Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) transportation alternatives was the largest comment turnout UDOT has experienced since Legacy Highway.

Analysis of the 6,500 comments received indicates the vast majority of recreationalists, citizens, and commenters preferred the gondola alternative.

Pie chart for feedback regarding Little Cottonwood Canyon: 71% of all comments mentioned the gondola option | 78% of comments about gondola were positive.

A Gondola solution for Little Cottonwood Canyon takes into consideration the following:

  • Dispersed access that is available year-round and accounts for recreation sites down canyon with additional shuttle service from gondola stops.
  • Canyon watershed protection is a high priority and should be studied. A gondola is the least watershed invasive alternative.
  • Traffic impact on communities at the base of the canyon.
  • Capacity and travel time improvements that allow for at least 3,700 people per hour for a travel time of 35 minutes from the La Caille Base Station to Alta.
  • Canyon closure transportation immediately following avalanche control work and during road closures due to road conditions or accidents.
  • Secondary egress for emergency access or life-saving transportation.
  • Parking that eliminates a redundant drive from bus stops.
  • Regional transportation connections that tie into mobility hubs and regional bus services.
  • Small environmental footprint in terms of physical space, viewshed, and carbon emissions.
  • Public/private partnership opportunities that contribute to the cost of the gondola. Any option will be a state project just like other UDOT transportation projects. Gondola is the only option that could have several revenue streams. Snowbird and Alta will be a large contributor to the gondola, paying for season pass holders and employees just as they do now to UTA for bus service.

Join us today in support of the Gondola Plus the proposed LA CAILLE BASE STATION to improve reliability, mobility, access and safety while also protecting the natural beauty of the Wasatch Mountains and our climate.

Gondola at La Caille, UDOT EIS

La Caille Base Station Option

concept drawings of La Caille Station for UDOT's Little Cottonwood Canyon project

This proposal makes the gondola even more attractive because it:

  • Offers more efficient UTA route (973) with right on-off dedicated bus accesses to minimize canyon road congestion
  • Minimizes crossing over the top of private property
  • Stays out of wilderness areas
  • Protects watershed in Little Cottonwood Canyon by decreasing number of private vehicles and all buses
  • Reduces vehicles and emissions by an estimated 56%, providing significant air quality benefits and a healthier canyon
  • Provides needed parking stalls with thoughtful and aesthetic design that hides garage at or below grade west of the highway
  • Will be signalized curtailing traffic congestion and providing better access for area residents
  • Will provide the fastest access to Snowbird (28 minutes) and Alta (35 minutes)

ski gondolas, one proposed option for UDOT's Little Cottonwood Canyon

Best Option — Gondola Plus La Caille Base Station

Better Mobility

  • Reduces traffic congestion in the canyon
  • Long-term solution – 50-year horizon
  • Proven and tested system
  • Safety – Eliminates risks from avalanches and landslides closing canyon

Good Health

  • Least environmental impact
  • Air quality benefits
  • Carbon neutral
  • Stays out of protected areas

Connected Communities

  • Keeps cars and buses as partners in the solution
  • Connected by bus to intermodal hubs
  • Expanded parking at proposed La Caille station

Strong Economy

  • Increases tourism assets and economic opportunities
  • Lower cost than alternatives
  • No road widening required
  • Year-round operation

La Caille Base Station and Intermodal Hub Design
LCC Gondola Alignment Map
Proposed UTA 973 transit routes

About Us

Gondola Works is a diverse coalition of stakeholders, canyon users and businesses who believe solving the long-term transportation problems of Little Cottonwood Canyon is a generational challenge is now is the time to get it right. Involved organizations include:

  • Snowbird
  • Alta Ski Area
  • POWDR
  • Ski Utah
  • UCAIR
  • Love Communications
  • Exoro Group
  • CW Management

Gondola Works is in support of the Gondola PLUS La Caille Base Station. We believe a high-capacity gondola that can operate in all weather conditions with low carbon emissions is the strongest transportation solution for Little Cottonwood Canyon. As the most avalanche-prone highway in North America, rubber-tired vehicles are not a long-term solution for carrying people safely on SR 210. Due to heavy snowfall, vehicle traction is the cause of many unacceptable traffic delays in Little Cottonwood Canyon and gondola removes that variable from the transportation equation. The gondola is a cost-effective, minimally impactful transportation solution that can handle today and tomorrow’s Wasatch Front population.

Show your support of the gondola PLUS La Caille Base Station option by sending a comment to UDOT. Comments are accepted at any time:

You can also make your voice heard in the press by writing a letter to the editor.


Stay In The Loop

Join us as we rally our community around the gondola for Little Cottonwood Canyon. Sign up and we’ll notify you on updates for the project, UDOT public forums, and community call-to-actions.

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