Getting up and down Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons has become a grueling experience over the past couple of years.
Some minor adjustments have been made, like new bus services, and multiple ski resorts requiring payments and reservations for parking. Brighton is likely to add paid parking reservations next winter, and Solitude could also be shifting to parking reservations. In addition, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is preparing numerous tactics to improve the experiences in both canyons.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed the SB2 bill in March, which directs $150 million to help relieve traffic in Little & Big Cottonwood Canyons. This money will be invested in “enhanced bus service, tolling, a mobility hub, and resort bus stops for Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.”
The first addition will be the conversion of SR-210 and SR-190 to toll roads. The fare rates will vary based on demand, but they could be as high as $20-50. The tolling will likely be a gantry that will automatically scan your vehicle, so there won’t be a stopover. While Big Cottonwood’s tolling location has yet to be determined, Little Cottonwood’s will be located above White Pine. Additional private and public bus services, which will either be free or have a minimal cost, will be a part of the new toll roads.
Here’s the timeline for the bus portion of the project from Josh Van Jura, who is the project manager for UDOT:
“We’d have to go out and buy additional buses, and we anticipate — from putting out the procurement through delivery and testing — is roughly two years. That is approximately the same two years that it would take to advertise, design and build a mobility hub.”
Yesterday, Ben Winslow from FOX 13 broke down the toll roads plan, which could be coming by 2025. He spoke with UDOT and Save Our Canyons to see how this will affect the driver experience.
These state funds for the project will become available once UDOT releases the record of the decision on the environmental impact study (EIS) for the proposed gondola. In terms of the gondola, an official record of the decision is expected from UDOT this summer. Once they announce the gondola plan, opponents will have a 150-day period to file a lawsuit. I imagine it’ll only take a couple of weeks before we hear about the first one.
— Ben Winslow (@BenWinslow) May 9, 2023