Town of Alta’s Take on the Gondola

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3/13/2024 Update – The Town of Alta passed a resolution urging UDOT to suspend consideration of a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon! Find the resolution here.

Hello WBA community, 

Last week, the Town of Alta held a special Town Council meeting to discuss whether or not to support or oppose the gondola. They are considering responding to the Utah Department of Transportation Little Cottonwood Canyon EIS and Record of Decision (ROD) which was released in the summer of 2023 and identified Gondola Alternative B (the “Gondola Alternative”), with proposed phasing as the preferred alternative. We need not say, this is a big deal! 

Passing a resolution has been a topic in many previous Town Council agendas, but has yet to come to fruition. During this recent meeting, the Council edited its current draft resolution and set a goal to pass a resolution at the next Town Council meeting, on 3/13.

WBA attended the meeting and provided a comment on the Town’s resolution draft. From the current resolution draft (RESOLUTION NO. 2024-R-5), WBA supports: 

  • “The Council strongly supports collecting, and sharing with the public, transportation data essential for evaluating the efficacy of long-term transportation solutions in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the LCC EIS.”

Although we have been fed the narrative that the success of the first two phases could negate the need for the gondola, currently UDOT is not planning to track metrics to determine the success of Phase 1 (Enhanced Bussing) and Phase 2 (Snowsheds) before implementing Phase 3 (Gondola). 

  • “The Council also supports conducting more rigorous and transparent evaluation of the capacity of the natural and social environment in LCC to withstand the additional visitation long-term transportation solutions would facilitate.”

WBA supports carrying capacity studies for LCC as they pertain to human use and environmental systems. We agree that long-term transportation solutions will facilitate additional visitation and we need to study these impacts before moving forward. 

  • “The Council notes and supports many specific measures articulated in Salt Lake County Mayor Wilson’s letter to UDOT dated October 17, 2022, especially those highlighted in the “Framework for Commonsense Solutions Approach”. In addition to Mayor Wilson’s recommendations, we request that UDOT implement additional measures in both phases including but not limited to:  Mandatory traction laws for LCC from November 1 to May 1; all vehicles must have approved traction control devices in vehicles or mounted on their vehicle. When enhanced traction is in effect (with lights, or signs), such devices must be mounted on vehicles.”

WBA supports common-sense solutions, including mandatory traction laws as this can greatly improve safety, mobility, and reliability on S.R. 210 in and near LCC. We would like to see traction laws utilized and enforced before adding infrastructure to the canyon.  

  • “The council urges UDOT to suspend all consideration to construct the proposed gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon.”

WBA encourages the Town Council to support Phase 1 but not Phase 3. WBA has not yet taken an official stance on Phase 2. 

UDOT has claimed through press releases and public statements that any part of the Little Cottonwood Canyon Transportation Plan (LCCTP) has to stop because of the pending lawsuits. This has led UDOT to inhibit progress on Phase 1. WBA has been closely engaged with a coalition of stakeholders working to stop the gondola while supporting Phase 1. 

Through this coalition, we have learned that UDOT’s claims are not valid. According to Pat Shea of Canyon Guard, “Both in person with the director of UDOT, Carlos Braceras, and in subsequent conversations we have assured the responsible parties at UDOT that we were not seeking injunctive relief to stop the LCCTP. In each of the 3 legal complaints, the focus is on the inadequacy and incorrect process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the LCCTP.” Therefore UDOT is able to proceed with Phase 1 but has chosen to pause progress due to the lawsuits.  

WBA will continue to monitor and engage with the Town Council when opportunities arise. We are eager to see their final resolution and share it with the community. 

Related news: https://www.sltrib.com/news/2024/03/14/alta-doesnt-need-gondola-town/


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