A record-breaking 13,000 comments were submitted to the Utah Department of Transportation during the public comment period for the environmental impact statement on how to mitigate traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Josh Van Jura, project manager for UDOT, says the number tops the department’s previous record for public comments on other significant projects by nearly 10,000 submissions, according to Deseret News.
Earlier this year, UDOT narrowed options for how to decrease traffic congestion in LCC to two:
- A gondola stretching from the La Caille station at the base of the canyon running to Snowbird and Alta.
- An enhanced bus service with added lanes on Highway 210.
View this post on Instagram
The public comment period was initially set to last 45 days but due to so many submissions, it ended up being extended to 70 days, ending on Sept. 3. Van Jura told Desert News that it’s “highly unlikely” the department will be able to make a decision before Christmas and that spring of 2022 is a more feasible time frame.
The gondola is estimated to cost taxpayers $592 million and the bus system $510 million. Ski areas Alta and Snowbird have publically stated that they are in favor of the gondola alternative while Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and groups like Wasatch Backcountry Alliance favor an enhanced bus service.
Even if submissions indicate a preferred option from the masses, the public comment period still isn’t a vote; it’s a process to make sure UDOT’s plan is the best one available and that all other potential alternatives are being considered. It’s also a way for the public to challenge the assertions made in the impact statement. This is a crucial part of the process of figuring out what to do with the ever-beautiful Little Cottonwood Canyon and it’s sometimes horrendous traffic that can have skiers sitting in their vehicles for hours at a time when trying to make it the mere 8-miles to or from the canyon’s ski areas. All viable options have to be considered and all facts have to be checked.
- Related: To Protest the Proposed Gondola, Activists Float Giant Red Balloons in Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT