Salt Lake County Mayor and Council pass joint resolution opposing gondola in favor of common-sense solutions

Salt Lake County Mayor Wilson and the County Council passed a joint resolution recommending that the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) eliminate the gondola from consideration and instead adopt the Common-Sense Solutions Approach, citing it as the more fiscally conservative and environmentally sound option. 

Dozens of Salt Lake County residents spoke against the gondola at the Salt Lake County Council work meeting.

“Instead of constructing 23 sky-scraper-sized gondola towers that will devastate the majestic views of the canyon, UDOT should pursue common-sense solutions that invest in more practical, adaptable, and less invasive transportation strategies,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Wilson. “These solutions on their own have the potential to solve the traffic problem without destroying our canyon. This common-sense approach will demonstrate that the costly and unsightly gondola is not right for our canyons.”

Mayor Wilson also urged the public to file comments with UDOT by the October 17 deadline.

The solutions Mayor Wilson supports include:

  • Electric, high-quality buses with mobility hubs;
  • Tolling;
  • Parking management strategies such as ski parking reservations and enhanced smartphone app technology;
  • Multi-passenger vehicle incentives such as micro-transit, carpooling, and rideshare programs; and
  • Traction device requirements with expanded inspection hours and enforcement.

“We are moving into a difficult time in our economy. As UDOT looks at building a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon, I would urge the State of Utah to look at ALL facets of this issue: water protection, fire safety, two ways in and out of the canyon in case of fire or avalanche, and other options available that solve more than just a narrow scope. It is easy for an entity with a narrow scope to come to a conclusion, but as public officials, we have a range of problems to solve and we need to look at solutions that solve those problems, not just a narrow scope. I have been given several that meet that criteria that have not been fully vetted by this NEPA process,” said Salt Lake County Council Chair Laurie Stringham.  

“Taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for a permanent and risky project like this, especially when we could invest in common-sense solutions like electric busses that can also be used to benefit transportation issues across Salt Lake Valley,” said Salt Lake County Councilmember Jim Bradley.

The reasons the Council and Mayor oppose the gondola, as outlined in the resolution, include:

  • A cost to taxpayers of at least $550 million in initial construction costs;
  • It would make stops at only two private ski resorts;
  • It would remove only 30% of vehicular traffic from the canyon road;
  • It would entail the construction of 23 high-rise hotel-sized gondola towers along the canyon road; and
  • It has limited flexibility to pivot in the event of changing circumstances.  

The resolution passed 5-4.