Utahns Get More Serious About Congestion In Canyons
Anyone who has made the drive up Little or Big Cottonwood Canyon on a winter weekend knows there’s just too much traffic.
Salt Lake City folks have been talking about this problem for years, and recently the idea of the “interconnect” among resorts has gained traction. Though a private enterprise, the proposed SkiLink gondola from Canyons Resort to Solitude Mountain Resort has further fueled discussion about the issue.
This year, a consortium of stakeholders in the future of the canyons in the Wasatch Range, led by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, moved to update the 1989 Wasatch Master Plan so as to address key issues facing the region -- including transportation to Wasatch Mountains ski and snowboard resorts.
First step was a public survey. Among the results was extremely strong support for increased public transportation to the seven resorts within short range of Salt Lake City. The most radical would be light rail up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta and Snowbird.
Ski Utah, which promotes all 14 Utah resorts, has taken an active role in the early stages of the master plan revision effort.
“Ski Utah is 100 percent behind the interconnect concept for the seven areas near Salt Lake City,” president and CEO Nathan Rafferty told SnoCountry.com. “We need to find a better way to move people around.”
Among the wintertime transportation recommendations from the survey are express bus service from Salt Lake City to Park City, creating a “transit hub” at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, and update avalanche control in the canyons.
While Mayor Becker has said it will take three years to solidify plans into action, Rafferty hopes it will be sooner.
“A Saturday and a powder day up Little Cottonwood is out of hand right now,” he said. “We’re hoping to put best practices into play for a safer, cleaner transportation system around our resorts.”
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Photo: Alta Ski Area, Wildcat base