The Utah Department of Transportation announced a delay Tuesday in its yearslong search for a traffic solution in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
The department will now identify a “single preferred alternative” by this summer, followed by a 30-day public review period.
The two main proposals are an 8-mile gondola that would take riders to Snowbird and Alta or an enhanced bus system with a widened canyon road. Both would cost over $500 million.
The department will then select its final recommendation by winter. The UDOT website says winter 2022, although project manager Josh Van Jura said it could spill over into 2023.
“There’s an equal chance that it could be before (2023),” Van Jura said.
Then it goes to the Utah Legislature, which will ultimately have the final say in whether to fund the recommendation. It’s likely lawmakers wouldn’t have voted on the recommendation until the 2023 legislative session anyway, meaning the delay in UDOT’s selection doesn’t necessarily translate to a delay in the project’s timeline.
Previously, the department said it was “optimistic” about releasing a recommendation by April, although UDOT spokesperson John Gleason noted there was a chance it could be pushed back to ensure “a thorough process and we’re carefully examining every issue,” he told KSL.com.
Now, Van Jura said, a historically high volume of public comments received in the last year will indeed result in a delay.
“The reason we’re extending the schedule is mainly due to the great public participation we’ve had in helping us make sure that we have an accurate and complete document,” said Van Jura, who told the Deseret News he’s read over 14,000 public comments to date, the most ever submitted for a UDOT project.
This story will be updated.