I decided to explore the question: Why are Environmentalists Against the Little Cottonwood Canyon Gondola? Living in Utah, people are very outdoorsy, active, and invested in preserving the natural beauty of our state while still being able to get out and enjoy it for ourselves. One of the biggest factors keeping Utah’s economy afloat is the income from in-state and out of state travelers coming to enjoy our natural parks, lakes, hikes, bike trails, and our ski resorts. While it is a great thing that so many people want to enjoy outdoor activities, it causes some issues that lately the Utah government has been trying to resolve. Probably the most controversial conflict that has arisen from this influx in visitors is the problem with canyon traffic congestion.
“The Greatest Snow on Earth” is located in just a few locations that are accessible to people looking to ski. Two of the biggest tourist and local attracting resorts are Snowbird and Alta, located in Little Cottonwood Canyon. This canyon has only two lanes, one for entering the canyon and one for exiting. Along with there only being one lane each way, there are only two modes of transportation for getting up the canyon. You can either elect to drive yourself up, and sit in traffic. Or park at the mouth of the canyon in the very limited parking lot, take the bus up, and sit in traffic. Either way, there is a major issue with traffic congestion for both locals and those traveling to come enjoy the resorts.
There have been 3 proposals from the Utah Department of Transportation to resolve this issue. The first option was to add more buses into rotation to pick up more skiers at the mouth of the canyon. The issue with this is that- there is no more space to add any additional parking for skiers and therefore more buses would not be the solution. The second option is to widen the roads within the canyon, and then add more buses into rotation. This has two issues, first with the parking restrictions, but also with the environmental implications that widening the roads would have on the canyon. The last option is to keep the road as is, but build a large gondola that has two stops, one at Snowbird and one at Alta. The department of transportation decided that the gondola would be the best solution
Environmentalists are strongly against the building and production of the gondola. After some research, I found that largely, environmentalists believe that this will not solve the problem of traffic congestion and will only harm the environment in its construction. They believe that traffic will still be an issue because there will be the same amount of people driving their own cars waiting to get a parking spot to even board the gondola.