UDOT Picks Gondola Option For Little Cottonwood; Funding Battle Looms

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Maybe, just maybe, perhaps some day, there might be a gondola running up Little Cottonwood Canyon to ferry skiers and riders to Snowbird and Alta.

After three years of study, a formal environmental review and some 14,000 public comments, the Utah DOT has selected a gondola to load in Sandy, travel 8 miles up the canyon, and make stops at each of the two resorts as the best chance to reduce ski traffic and air pollution the tight canyon in the Wasatch Front just above Salt Lake City.

Much needs to be accomplished before the first lift tower starts to go up. Most significantly is that the Utah state legislature must appropriate funds for the construction project, which is estimated to be at least $500 million. That is likely to take several legislative sessions to sort out.

In the meantime, UDOT will enhance bus transport in the canyon -- a first step in a phased approach to lingering traffic problems in the canyon. Those phases also include mobility hubs, parking improvements and tolling.

The state transportation agency said it selected the gondola option over a road-widening option for dedicated bus lanes because the gondola would be a long-term solution to ever-growing traffic congestion. Plans call for 35-seat cabins going up and down the canyon at two-minute intervals.

Anti-gondola groups have said that phasing prior to allocating millions for a gondola might convince more skiers and riders to take public transportation to the two resorts four miles up State Route 210 -- perhaps rendering the gondola moot.

Because of the volume of skiers and riders driving up the canyon, parking has been an issue for many years, because the steep canyon restricts parking capacities to the tight base areas. Both resorts strongly encourage taking free buses from Sandy, and they also give parking preferences to those who carpool.

Snowbird was the first to require reservations through a "hybrid" system. To get one of 2,800 spots, there's a preferred parking season pass, a daily paid reservation system, valet parking for a fee, free carpooling lots (at least 4 per vehicle), and free lots that mean a bit more of a hump to get to the lifts.

Alta followed with a parking reservation system online. Those choosing to drive up the canyon to Alta have had to reserve a spot before heading up.

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Park City Residents' Appeal Puts Halt To Chairlift Replacements

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Park City Mountain regulars and visitors will have to wait at least another season before riding replacement chairlifts that were designed to reduce crowding at the base and on the mountain.

Therefore, skier and riders at one of America's largest ski areas will have to be content with the workhorse Eagle chair that is one of the main ways to get onto the mountain from the base area, and the Silverlode Express which loads at the crossover junction between Park City side and The Canyons side.

On June 25, the Park City Planning Commission agreed to allow an appeal by a quartet of Park City residents that installation of the two chairs didn't align with the resort's 1998 master plan. In addition, the commission said that resort ownership needs to update its parking plans around the busy base area to align with current carrying capacity estimates.

In essence, the appeal halts any plans for replacement lifts this summer at the 7,300-acre ski and snowboard resort. And, the appeal puts more pressure on owners Vail Resorts to sort out vehicle parking options that have been a sore spot for years, and further exacerbated by a Provo company's plans to cover one primary parking lot with commercial development.

Before plans were waylaid by the appeal, the 30-year-old fixed-grip triple Eagle was to replaced by a six-pack detachable chair to double uphill capacity and cut riding time to get to the Thanes Canyon area. Plan also called for the six-pack high-speed Silverlode Express to become the resort's first eight-person chairlift. Uphill capacity would nearly double to get skiers and riders out of what has become the busy Miner's Camp mid-mountain junction where people either stay on the Park City side or take a gondola to The Canyons side of the resort.

Vail Resort's officials opposed the appeal but have said that construction of the two replacement chairlifts is on hold, at least for this summer's construction season.

 

 

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Alta Institutes Pay-To-Park Reservation System

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In the latest move among Utah resorts to confront overcrowding, Alta Ski Area will charge $25 to make a reservation to park during busy times in its lots at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

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How To Make Ticket Reservations To Ski, Ride This Winter

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For this COVID-19 winter, various forms of advanced reservations will be required resorts in the West so management can maintain distancing requirements while guaranteeing spots on the hill during the pandemic.

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Reservations, Parking Limits, Grab 'n' Go New Normal at Utah Resorts

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A ski and snowboard season like no other is coming to us all, including locals and visitors to the major Utah resorts.

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Colorado Front Range Resorts Sort Out Parking, Ticketing

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Most Colorado Front Range skiers and riders typically don't think much about hopping in the car and heading west. However, this season is different and will require a bit more prep before the ride up I-70, U.S. 24 or Highway 119.

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Overcrowding At Washington's Crystal Mountain Prompts Limited Ticket Sales

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Turning skiers and riders away from a resort on a powder day is not what resorts want to do but, in the case of Crystal Mountain, there was not a choice.

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