SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Nov. 16, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Department of Transportation and Unified Police Department announced new procedures Monday to manage the expected increase in traffic this season in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.
Canyons resorts will now monitor parking lots and determine when their lots reach capacity, and UDOT and UPD will monitor roadside parking through traffic count data, visual parking assessments and the canyon’s uphill queue, said a news release from UDOT. An uphill restriction will be initiated when both resort and roadside parking availability is at capacity and can no longer safely support additional vehicles at that time.
UDOT, UPD and resort representatives will be stationed at restriction turnaround points to answer questions and determine if a traveler meets uphill travel exceptions, such as employees who have critical passes or are in a resort vehicle, rideshare vehicles that do not require parking, UTA buses, canyon residents, parents picking up children and hotel/restaurant/spa guests with reservations, the news release said. .
“Traffic in the canyons is expected to be heavier than ever, with more people turning to the outdoors for recreation to cope with COVID-19,” the news release added. “UDOT also anticipates a decrease in those carpooling with people outside of households and lower ridership capacity on the ski buses because of the pandemic.”
Along with the new access procedures, UDOT is relaunching the vehicle sticker pilot program that debuted last year for resort employees and canyon residents to make sure their vehicles are ready for winter driving. After seeing success in its first year, UDOT is expanding the pilot program to the general public to increase the number of vehicles entering the canyons with proper equipment.
“Together in coordination with the resorts, UPD and UDOT may determine that the heavy amount of traffic congestion creates a public safety hazard that requires the restriction of uphill traffic,” UPD Sgt. Ed Twohill said. “Having a plan for coordination on uphill restrictions and better prepared vehicles through the sticker program ensures a better experience for all canyon travelers.”
There will be two sticker program distributions for past participants only and officials were planning three open to the public; however UDOT tweeted Monday morning: “We have reached the limit for the pilot sticker program. Thank you for the overwhelming support for being prepared for winter driving conditions.” More information on the sticker program, traction law and uphill traffic restrictions can be found on the UDOT Cottonwood Canyons website.
Travelers are encouraged to plan ahead by checking the UDOT Traffic App, the UDOT Cottonwoods website and social media channels and resort information before heading up the either canyon. UDOT also advises drivers to adjust travel to off-peak days and times where possible.