If you’re wondering where all the workers went, look no further than the Silicon Slopes of Utah especially Little Cottonwood Canyon home to Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton. Now there’s talk of constructing a gondola to get up the canyon because of the traffic, a “red snake” that can take hours to travel eight miles.
NPR’s Kirk Siegler details the traffic problems in Little Cottonwood Canyon and the potential solution:
A few thousand feet below the stunning vistas of Alta’s High Traverse, near the bottom of Little Cottonwood canyon, is where the dreaded “red snake” can come into view. That’s what locals call the seemingly endless line of thousands of red tail lights idling along route 210.
On a big powder day, or a busy weekend, it can sometimes take more than three hours just to travel the windy, two lane, 8-mile road.
“Where we live, we couldn’t get out into the street,” says Kurt Reichelt, recalling a recent holiday weekend that coincided with big storms. “Everybody and their brother was trying to get up here.”
Reichelt and his buddy Brian Cardello, who are retired and originally from Stowe, Vermont, gave up trying to ski those days.
“We take the bus and while we’re waiting, we see so many cars with single drivers, I mean, nobody’s carpooling,” he adds.
Utah’s normally efficient public bus system is currently hobbled due to a reported driver shortage. It’s clear some people are giving up waiting for busses that either run less frequently or no longer stop at certain park-and-rides near the canyon’s entrance.
“There are just too many people,” Cardello says. “And it’s not [just] here it’s everywhere.”
Many blame discount season passes like the Ikon, which is good at Alta and Snowbird, or the Epic from Vail Resorts, which allow skiers to bounce easily from one resort to the next, and also chase the best snow between states.
A push for a gondola as a green alternative to driving
In the last 20 years, the number of skiers visiting Utah resorts has nearly doubled, from 3 million to now close to 6 million, according to Ski Utah, an industry trade group.
“We have the same infrastructure, the same road that we had 20 years ago,” says Mike Maughan, general manager of Alta.
And in a state that relies heavily on ski tourism — last year the industry raked in close to $1.4 billion — there’s pressure to fix the mess in the canyon.
Enter the gondola, which the Utah Department of Transportation estimates would move roughly the same number of skiers and commuters up Little Cottonwood in an hour — a thousand — as the road does on a rare, traffic-free day.
Originally posted on Your Survival Guy.
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