SALT LAKE CITY — A trio of possible options to improve traffic movement in Little Cottonwood Canyon include a gondola, enhanced bus service or widening the roadway to put in a bus lane.

All three options are costly and include the consideration of tolling or vehicle occupancy restrictions, in addition to the construction of parking structures at the base of the canyon.

The transportation agency also wants to widen Wasatch Boulevard to not only alleviate wintertime congestion on busy ski days but to reduce peak traffic clogs due to the evening commute.

Project manager Josh Van Jura stressed that all three options need extensive public input, which kicks off June 8 with a 35-day comment period that will help shape a draft environmental review that will be released in spring of next year.

“We have been studying these canyons for years,” he said, adding that over 30 years there have been a bevy of studies looking at how to improve transportation in the busy canyons.

All three options include “mobility hubs” or parking structures to accommodate as many as 2,500 vehicles in an effort to get people out of their cars and using a transit option such as bus service or a gondola.

The first option focuses an enhanced bus service, running 24 buses an hour, or every five minutes. The enhanced bus platform features “direct” service with some buses that would go directly to Alta without stopping at Snowbird and vice versa.

Van Jura said the difference in travel time would be 46 minutes for a private vehicle, compared to 54 minutes for someone who chose the bus service.

The second option also includes enhanced bus, but also proposes widening the shoulder of state Route 201 up Little Cottonwood Canyon to feature a bus lane and provide greater room for bicyclists.

The agency, under the third option, is looking at the installation of a gondola, with 30 gondola cabins running per hour. They would unload directly at Snowbird or Alta ski resorts and carry up to 35 people.

Winter enthusiasts would park in one of the new parking structures and take a bus to the gondola, he said.

The travel time under that scenario would be 46 minutes.

Each parking structure would require a minimum of four acres and would be built with the provision of additional easements granted by the U.S. Forest Service.

Two options would also contemplate the construction of multiple “snow sheds” — bridge structures that would help keep avalanches from smothering the roadway.

Avalanche mitigation requires closure of the road on average about 56 hours a year, while these structures would reduce it to 11 hours, or by 80%.

Those structures, he added, would reduce the avalanche hazard up the canyon by one-third.

The agency is particularly interested in whether people have a desire to have the gondola service as an option for summer visits to the canyon, he said.

Under these scenarios, the construction costs for the first option come in at $283 million, the second at $470 million and the third at $393 million. There are operational and maintenance costs on top of that.

The transportation agency worked with the Utah Transit Authority and the Forest Service to examine 105 initial concepts to solve congestion problems in the canyon and eventually settle on these three options.

The process began in 2019 and will go forward over the next year, with a final decision expected at the end of 2021.

Virtual meetings on the draft review will be held June 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. and again on June 23 from 6 to 8 p.m.