LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) began an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in the spring of 2018 for Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) and Wasatch Boulevard in partnership with Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service to provide an integrated transportation system that improves the reliability, mobility and safety for residents, visitors, and commuters who use S.R. 210.
Ultimately, the partners seek to deliver transportation options that meet the needs of the community while preserving the value of the Wasatch Mountains.
UDOT released the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Little Cottonwood Canyon EIS on July 12, 2023. The ROD is the final step in the EIS process and selects Gondola Alternative B, with phased implementation of Enhanced Bus Service Alternative components, to improve transportation in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The ROD can be viewed here.
STUDY AREA MAP
EIS Process & Timeline
Public Comment Period: Mar. 9 - May 4, 2018
REVISED PUBLIC SCOPING
Public Comment Period: Mar. 5 - Jun. 14, 2019
Public Comment Period: Nov. 4 - Dec. 13, 2019
DRAFT PURPOSE AND NEED AND ALTERNATIVE SCREENING CRITERIA
ALTERNATIVES DEVELOPMENT AND REFINEMENT
Public Comment Period: Jun. 8 - Jul. 10, 2020
View all Draft Alternatives Information >
Public Open House & Hearing: Jul. 13, 2021
Virtual Public Hearing: Jul. 20, 2021
Public Comment Period: Jun. 25 - Sept. 3, 2021
Public Comment Period: Dec. 10, 2021 - Jan. 10, 2022
View all Draft EIS Information >
Public Comment Period: Sept. 2 - Oct. 17, 2022
IRA/Air Quality SIR Public Comment Period: Mar. 19 - Apr. 18, 2023
View all Final EIS Information >
Record of Decision Available: UDOT Identifies Gondola Alternative B with Phased Implementation as Selected Alternative
UDOT has released the Record of Decision (ROD) and the over 30,000 public comments received during the Final EIS comment periods. The ROD is the final step in the EIS process as UDOT selects Gondola Alternative B, with phased implementation of Enhanced Bus Service Alternative components, to improve transportation in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The ROD can be reviewed here.
Gondola Alternative B, with phased implementation, overall best meets the project purpose and need and the short and long term transportation needs for the canyon. The gondola provides the highest travel reliability, as it can operate independently of S.R. 210, avoiding delays related to adverse weather, crashes, slide offs, and slow moving traffic. While the gondola does have high visual impacts, it has low impacts to the watershed, wildlife movement, and climbing boulders, along with low operations and maintenance costs. Full implementation of Gondola B depends on available funding.
In identifying the selected alternative and sub-alternatives, UDOT considered public and agency input during the scoping process and during the alternatives development, screening, and refinement process as well as comments received on the Draft EIS, Final EIS, and supplemental information reports. UDOT received roughly 50,000 comments throughout these public comment periods. This record amount of thorough and detailed comments from the public prompted even further evaluation to ensure an accurate impact analysis. UDOT then identified the selected alternative based on its transportation performance, cost, and impacts to the natural and built environment, and documented this process in the Final EIS and supplemental information reports.
Phased Implementation of Gondola Alternative B
Recognizing that safety, mobility and reliability are issues on S.R. 210 today, UDOT will implement the selected alternative in phases, starting with components of the Enhanced Bus Service Alternative.
With the funding granted by SB2 (2023), Phase 1 planning and design is expected to begin this summer and includes coordinating with the USDA Forest Service and the Federal Highway Administration for the required permitting and easements, identifying a bus service provider, procuring buses and tolling equipment, and designing a mobility hub and resort bus stops at Snowbird and Alta.
PHASE 1: When implemented, Phase 1 will include improved and increased bus service scaled to meet demand (with no canyon roadway widening), constructing resort bus stops and a mobility hub at the Gravel Pit, tolling, and winter roadside parking restrictions. Increased bus service, tolling and resort stops will be assessed further for Big Cottonwood Canyon in Phase 1. Phase 1 is anticipated to be operational in the fall of 2025.
PHASE 2: Based on available funding, Phase 2 improvements will include widening and other improvements to Wasatch Boulevard, constructing snow sheds, and implementing trailhead parking improvements.
PHASE 3: Implementation of Gondola Alternative B in Phase 3 is dependent on available funding. During this phase, UDOT will construct a base station with 2,500 parking spaces near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, where all users would travel directly to the base station without needing to take a bus from a mobility hub. Each gondola cabin would hold up to 35 people, and travelers could expect a cabin to arrive every two minutes. Once the gondola is operational in Phase 3, bus service in Little Cottonwood Canyon would be discontinued.
These improvements will improve air quality, protect the watershed, and increase the quality of life for residents and canyon users by reducing traffic congestion as private vehicles shift to transit.
Final EIS Supplemental Information Reports Comment Period
March 19 – April 18, 2023