Is a cog railway or gondola in the future for Little Cottonwood Canyon?

A car travels in Little Cottonwood Canyon in 2013. The Utah Department of Transportation is looking at two other options to handle traffic in the canyon: a cog railway or a gondola to ferry visitors to the ski resorts.

A car travels in Little Cottonwood Canyon in 2013. The Utah Department of Transportation is looking at two other options to handle traffic in the canyon: a cog railway or a gondola to ferry visitors to the ski resorts. | Ravell Call, Deseret News

UDOT announces two new options in efforts to mitigate traffic in the popular canyon

SALT LAKE CITY — Ways to fix the traffic congestion problem that plagues Little Cottonwood Canyon and its outdoor enthusiasts have been bandied about for decades.

Two more options were announced Friday by the Utah Department of Transportation: a cog railway or a gondola to ferry visitors to the ski resorts.

Both options were immediately denounced by conservation organizations and backcountry enthusiasts who say they are an attempt to turn the canyon into an amusement park.

But the options come as a result of public feedback, the agency said, and will be included as alternatives as part of the Little Cottonwood Canyon draft environmental impact statement. The alternatives are the result of more than 6,500 public comments that were received.

“Public comment is so essential to everything we do, because we develop better solutions when we work together,” Josh Van Jura UDOT project manager, said. “This level of public participation is terrific to see. It proves just how important these canyons are to our quality of life.”

The new alternatives are a gondola from La Caille and cog rail from La Caille.

They join the three previously identified in June this year that include enhanced bus service, enhanced bus service in a dedicated shoulder lane, and a gondola at the canyon base. The five proposed alternatives, which include some concepts that have never been done before in the state, will be studied further and have the potential to dramatically change transportation within the canyon, according to the agency.

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The proposed alternative featuring the gondola from La Caille would include a base station and 1,500-space parking structure at a proposed development on the west side of North Little Cottonwood Road at La Caille. Visitors would be able to park at the La Caille base station and board the gondola for direct service to Snowbird and Alta.

The other alternative proposes a cog rail from La Caille, which would include a diesel-powered train with a cogwheel on a track underneath, providing traction for ascending steep slopes.

Cog railways are in place at Mount Washington in New Hampshire and Pikes Peak in Colorado, which is currently under renovation and slated to restart next year.

A cog railway station for Little Cottonwood Canyon would be located at the same location with the same parking structure and improvements to North Little Cottonwood Road as proposed for the gondola station at La Caille. The cog rail would also offer direct service to Snowbird and Alta.

In addition, the agency also added minor revisions for the three previously identified alternatives, including updated cost estimates to all three and adding snow sheds and a second mobility hub to the gondola at Little Cottonwood Canyon park-and-ride alternative.

Carl Fisher, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

      

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