UDOT announces draft transportation alternatives for Little Cottonwood Canyon

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 4, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Department of Transportation has identified three alternatives for more in-depth study to improve transportation in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

These draft alternatives, which were developed as part of the Little Cottonwood Canyon Environmental Impact Statement, include enhanced bus service, enhanced bus service in a dedicated shoulder lane, and a gondola, said a news release from UDOT.

“The enhanced bus service alternative would have UTA buses operating as frequently as every five minutes,” the news release said. “The Enhanced Bus Service in a Dedicated Shoulder Lane alternative combines enhanced frequencies with bus-only shoulders on SR-210 to be used during peak travel times. The gondola alternative would construct a new base station at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon and offer service to the top of the canyon. Buses from a mobility hub at the gravel pit would provide access to the base station. There would be no parking at the base station.”

In addition to these three main alternatives, other elements have also been developed that would be combined with each alternative. These include snow sheds; concrete structures built over the highway to keep it clear of snow in case of avalanches, mobility hubs; larger-capacity park-and-ride lots with transit service, widening and other improvements to Wasatch Boulevard and addressing trailhead parking and eliminating some roadside parking.

Members of the public can review the draft alternative documents on the project website and submit formal comments beginning June 8 here.

“Public participation is a vital component of the study and helps support the decision-making process,” said Josh Van Jura, UDOT project manager. “We’re asking canyon users, residents, and the public as a whole to get involved and let us know their feedback. We’re ultimately able to develop better solutions when we have help from the public through their comments and participation.”

UDOT began with a list of 105 preliminary concepts proposed by stakeholders during the 2019 public scoping period and suggested in previous studies to address transportation needs in Little Cottonwood Canyon. These concepts were evaluated based on their ability to improve transportation in the canyon, their feasibility, and a preliminary review of their environmental impacts. Based on those criteria, the list of 105 concepts was pared down to three draft alternatives.

Along with the public comment period, UDOT will host virtual public meetings to review the EIS draft alternatives and answer public questions. The virtual meetings will be accessible via Zoom. UDOT will also host an in-person public meeting for individuals without internet connectivity. For public meeting details and schedule, visit the project website.

The Little Cottonwood Canyon EIS was initiated in 2018 by UDOT in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and Utah Transit Authority. Following the public review of these draft alternatives, next steps in the study will include identifying a preferred alternative in the Draft EIS, followed by the final EIS and Record of Decision, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2021.


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