UDOT introduces new plans to control ski traffic in Salt Lake’s Cottonwood canyons

The Utah Department of Transportation and the Unified Police Department relaunch the Cottonwood canyons sticker program at the UDOT maintenance shed in Cottonwood Heights on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. For the first time, the general public will now have access to the stickers indicating their vehicle is properly equipped for winter weather. The stickers have proven to decrease vehicle inspection times at the mouth of the canyons by allowing prescreened vehicles through inspection points.

The Utah Department of Transportation and the Unified Police Department relaunch the Cottonwood canyons sticker program at the UDOT maintenance shed in Cottonwood Heights on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. For the first time, the general public will now have access to the stickers indicating their vehicle is properly equipped for winter weather. The stickers have proven to decrease vehicle inspection times at the mouth of the canyons by allowing prescreened vehicles through inspection points. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — With ski season fast approaching, new strategies will be implemented to control traffic in Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood canyons this winter.

The Utah Department of Transportation and Unified Police Department Monday announced their plans to manage the expected increase in skier traffic in the heavily traveled canyons.

“We anticipate an influx of vehicles this year. We saw that a lot through the summertime. It’s a good escape during the COVID pandemic (and) it’s a good place to go as far as people being able to spread out and be safe and still get some recreation,” said UDOT district engineer Shawn Lambert. “We anticipate that will continue through the winter. So all signs are pointing toward a lot of skiing and a lot of backcountry use.”

In addition to vehicle restrictions into the canyons, ski resorts will also monitor parking lots to determine when their facilities reach full capacity, while UDOT and police will keep tabs on roadside parking through traffic count data, visual assessments and the canyon’s uphill queue, he said. An uphill restriction will be implemented when both resort and roadside parking is full and can no longer safely support additional vehicles at that time.

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In a joint effort, resort representatives along with transportation and law enforcement officials will be stationed at strategic turnaround points to determine if a traveler meets uphill travel exceptions, such as employees who have critical passes or are in a resort vehicle, ride-share vehicles that do not require parking, UTA buses, canyon residents or parents picking up children, along with hotel/restaurant/spa guests with reservations, a news release stated.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, UDOT expects canyon traffic to be heavier than ever, with more people trying to relieve the stress of being self-quarantined. UDOT also anticipates less carpooling with people avoiding exposure to individuals outside of their own households. Additionally, lower ridership on ski buses is expected because of the pandemic.

“We expect a lot of vehicles up the canyon and to exacerbate that issue, the shuttle service and UTA buses will be at limited capacity,” Lambert warned. “So we expect a lot of vehicles to take their place. We see a lot of challenges coming up this year, so we’re just trying to address these with a couple (of new tactics).”

In addition to the new access procedures, UDOT is relaunching the vehicle sticker pilot program initiated last year for resort employees and canyon residents to ensure their vehicles are properly equipped for winter driving. Following the success in its debut year, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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