Utah UDOT Proposes Three Options To Ease Little Cottonwood Canyon Traffic

Philpug

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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – Imagine floating above the snarled traffic on a snow day as you’re heading up Little Cottonwood Canyon in a gondola.

What would be the longest gondola in the world is among three alternatives proposed by the Utah Department of Transportation to ease skier traffic in the winter in the popular canyon.

UDOT officials were eager for public input on the Little Cottonwood Canyon Environmental Impact Statement.

One of the busiest ski days a dozen years ago is now an average winter day up in Little Cottonwood Canyon. As many as 7,000 cars head up this canyon on a busy ski day. The gondola, along with the other two options, which involve improved bus services, would cut traffic by 30%.

“More and more people are coming to the canyons. They’re coming to enjoy the ski resorts, and we want to make that possible,” said UDOT spokesman John Gleason.

Full article Here...
 

fatbob

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A pie in the sky idea to make other options look more rational.

Relatively easy to fix, which in fairness I think they are broadly offering as an option

1 Close canyon to private vehicle traffic (allow staff and guests/residents up down travel after say 5.30pm) -
Be very tough on exceptions
2 Big parking lot Wasatch Blvd
3 Fleet of electric/biodiesel buses on continuous loop to Alta and back
4 Use some of the parking lot space to put up tent structures for lockers/changing/brown bag storage
 

Wasatchman

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A pie in the sky idea to make other options look more rational.

Relatively easy to fix, which in fairness I think they are broadly offering as an option

1 Close canyon to private vehicle traffic (allow staff and guests/residents up down travel after say 5.30pm) -
Be very tough on exceptions
2 Big parking lot Wasatch Blvd
3 Fleet of electric/biodiesel buses on continuous loop to Alta and back
4 Use some of the parking lot space to put up tent structures for lockers/changing/brown bag storage
I think we may eventually get to a point of doing this. Although I think guests/residents should have no time restriction for driving up and down canyon as you propose. If you live up there, you have to come down for doctor appointments, groceries, supplies, etc. Plus, there aren't that many residents that it would make a difference traffic wise.
 

Jim Kenney

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@fatbob, I know Zermatt requires a train ride from the valley to get up to the village. How does that work for day-trippers who want to just go up to the lifts and ski for one day? Is it pretty costly or reasonable for a day-tripper? The ratio of daytrippers going to LCC resorts vs. weeklong vacationers is probably higher than many other top-tier US ski areas.
 

DanoT

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Before ruling out the "World's Longest Gondola" it might be worth considering the amazing success of Whistler/Blackcombs Peak to Peak Gondola. Built for $50M Cdn in 2008, many industry insiders were skeptical. "I can build an entire ski resort for that kind of money", said some, only to admit later, after seeing the amount of summer foot traffic the Peak to Peak Gondola creates, that they were wrong. I have seen foot passenger tourist traffic in April while the ski season is still on.

I don't mean any criticism, but Americans more than other people, love the biggest, longest, strongest, smartest, greatest anything.

Solve a winter traffic problem by building a summer tourist attraction.:ogbiggrin:
 
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New2

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All three of their proposed options rely on personal driving up the canyon to carry more than 2/3 of peak traffic. If driving up and parking there is an option, I just don't see how much of anyone is going to willingly go through all the hassle of the gondola option... get to a park-and-ride, take a bus from the park-and-ride to the gondola loading station, take the long gondola ride up. It sounds significantly less convenient than the current ski bus setup, and way more expensive. If they were looking at connecting the gondola directly to a big park-and-ride just off the freeway, that might be workable. But not this.
 

Daniel

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@fatbob, I know Zermatt requires a train ride from the valley to get up to the village. How does that work for day-trippers who want to just go up to the lifts and ski for one day? Is it pretty costly or reasonable for a day-tripper? The ratio of daytrippers going to LCC resorts vs. weeklong vacationers is probably higher than many other top-tier US ski areas.
Actually one can drive the vast majority of the way up the canyon from Visp (in the Rhone River Valley) to Zermatt if they desire but cannot go beyond the village of Tasch. The train does run from Visp to Zermatt but a great deal of people drive to Tasch and leave their vehicle there in a massive car park and ride the train the remaining 7-9 kilometers to Zermatt. The only vehicular traffic allowed beyond Tasch are private taxis, delivery vehicles, ambulances, etc. Also allowed are bicycles, which is how my wife and I travelled to Zermatt for a week-long holiday from Visp in the midst of a 6-month-long bike tour of Western Europe. The road from Visp to Zermatt is much longer than the LCC road and not nearly as steep. It forks fairly early on, with the other road heading up canyon to the resort town of Saas Fee.

I can't speak to the cost of the train ride but, being CH, it's likely not cheap.
 

Bad Bob

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Wonder what something like a monorail would cost? While we are spending Utah's money, let's spend some more.

No road clearing minimal footprint could move a lot of people and enjoy the view.
 

DanoT

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Wonder what something like a monorail would cost? While we are spending Utah's money, let's spend some more.

No road clearing minimal footprint could move a lot of people and enjoy the view.
I think that putting in an elevated track would be more costly than gondola towers.

Here is my suggestion for financing any of the options that severely reduce car access: Use the now not needed parking lots at Alta and Snowbird to build revenue producing real estate development.
 

Pat AKA mustski

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If the bus rides were included in passes of all types, I don't see it being a problem. I do agree that residents and those paying for slope side lodging would need to be able to access the roads throughout the day, but that can't be that many people during the ski day. After all, that's why they are staying there and most employees would probably opt for the bus. Just figure out how many buses you need to run at the beginning & end of the day and keep the loop going with pick ups every 5 minutes at high traffic time then every half an hour during the rest of the day.
 

scott43

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The likely answer will be buses on a widened shoulder. Cheapest, most flexibility, easy to make attractive (sit in your car for 2 hours or glide down the shoulder in 10 mins to your car at the bottom). Nothwithstanding politicians' desire to have white elephant projects not built with their money, the simple, unglamourous bus with some simple scheduling can do a pretty good job. We got some great transit boondoggles going on up here.. :(
 

DanoT

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The likely answer will be buses on a widened shoulder. Cheapest, most flexibility, easy to make attractive (sit in your car for 2 hours or glide down the shoulder in 10 mins to your car at the bottom). Nothwithstanding politicians' desire to have white elephant projects not built with their money, the simple, unglamourous bus with some simple scheduling can do a pretty good job. We got some great transit boondoggles going on up here.. :(
^^^This is probably the best option and I base that opinion on the world class Aspen bus system that features dedicated bus lanes in heavy traffic areas. It might be costly or near impossible to widen parts of LCC, but again, I think of Aspen where in one narrow spot in the Roaring Fork River valley they have a highway on the ground with an elevated highway over top.
 

scott43

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And it's cheap flexible infrastructure. You sink $1b into a rail line, you're stuck with that thing. Same with a gondola,which is cool, but it's fixed infrastructure. Suppose skiing dies or popularity wanes? It's not glamourous, but buses work and can be done quickly, scaled up and down.
 

Ken_R

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^^^This is probably the best option and I base that opinion on the world class Aspen bus system that features dedicated bus lanes in heavy traffic areas. It might be costly or near impossible to widen parts of LCC, but again, I think of Aspen where in one narrow spot in the Roaring Fork River valley they have a highway on the ground with an elevated highway over top.
Yep. By far the best bang for the buck option no question. Buses need to be made so as to easily accommodate skiers and their gear and ease of entry / exit. The gondola as a primary park and ride vehicle is just not as efficient. On powder days you can have more busses waiting at the lot while lift capacity is fixed.

That said the bus system is not a glamorous option and doesnt look as good in brochures and marketing materials :huh: :ogbiggrin:
 

fatbob

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@fatbob, I know Zermatt requires a train ride from the valley to get up to the village. How does that work for day-trippers who want to just go up to the lifts and ski for one day? Is it pretty costly or reasonable for a day-tripper? The ratio of daytrippers going to LCC resorts vs. weeklong vacationers is probably higher than many other top-tier US ski areas.
Sorry can't speak to price as I think I was only a teen when I last did it (& there is a lot of inflation in a couple of years ;) )


Think there is ample parking at Tasch for it to work though although day trippers are of course lower in the Euro destination ski vacations relative to the US.
 

tball

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That said the bus system is not a glamorous option and doesnt look as good in brochures and marketing materials :huh: :ogbiggrin:
Not glamorous, but busses work well for Beaver Creek where they also effectively separate the hordes who have to park in Avon from those staying in the village.
 

Nathanvg

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The likely answer will be buses on a widened shoulder. Cheapest, most flexibility, easy to make attractive (sit in your car for 2 hours or glide down the shoulder in 10 mins to your car at the bottom). Nothwithstanding politicians' desire to have white elephant projects not built with their money, the simple, unglamourous bus with some simple scheduling can do a pretty good job. We got some great transit boondoggles going on up here.. :(
Some type of bus solution is by far the best cost to benefit ratio. My biggest problem with a dedicated bus lane is that the traffic is worse on snowy days and on those days the lane likely wouldn't be plowed or would be very expensive to maintain.

A few options that could be executed in successive order if problems persist:

1. Increase buss service by a big factor, like 10x. Nothing discourages bus use like waiting 30 minutes for a bus only to have it go by "full."
2. Make buses free. More people would ride the bus which would result in cost savings from not having to expand the road more than pays for this.
3. Identify a way to further discourage car use. A toll or parking fee is the most obvious option but might be expensive to implement. More creative options like giving bus riders a 5 dollar coupon/credit good for lift/food/etc. per ride.

More plowing services or snow sheds might also make sense. I've been on the bus for over 3 hours before so I'm a big supporter of an improvement.
 

Jully

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Agreed about the bus comments, but this puts a dedicated bus lane as the most expensive option (as proposed). The roadway expansion that was envisioned seems very costly.
 

scott43

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I guess the cost for snow sheds is pretty steep (pardon the pun). I still think buses will win.
 

David Chaus

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It seems like a big cost is having to manage the impacts on some properties along the highway. You widen and/or add a shoulder lane for peak hour traffic, it can affect trails and buildings.
 
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