SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Inside the Utah Department of Transportation’s Little Cottonwood Canyon Environmental Impact Statement lies a proposal to implement a toll in Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons.
The goal would be to stabilize and reduce traffic volumes by 30% through travel alternatives.
UDOT’s proposal is to focus on the area above Snowbird Entry 1 for 50 days in the winter from 7:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
“I'm in favor of providing people choice of how they get up the canyon,” said Brad Rutledge, an outdoor enthusiast and co-founder and board member of the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance which promotes the preservation and use of the public lands for everyone.
Rutledge admits the issue of tolling is tricky but believes UDOT should look at the behavior change tolling will have before any decision is made for a more permanent transportation alternative like a gondola or added bus lanes.
“When we look at something like tolling it's a tricky one because we want to be equitable across groups, but we should be looking at trying tolling before we look to build a gondola,” Rutledge said.
Rutledge said communities that use the upper canyons but don't ski at a resort need to be considered.
“We have to be thoughtful about what are we trying to accomplish," he said.
Right now, this is just an alternative being considered, and UDOT said every alternative being considered would need some sort of travel demand strategy, like tolling.
A UDOT spokesman said the exact details of the potential tolling are yet to be determined, however, the initial toll could range from $20 to $30 during the peak periods, with adjustments made depending on time of day and day of the week.
To alleviate drivers that would flock to Big Cottonwood Canyon, UDOT would consider a toll there too during the same times.
The final EIS comment period is open until October 17.
You can submit a comment and find out more information about the polling proposal at the Environmental Impact Statement.