The statement sent to UDOT is provided below.
To: UDOT LCC EIS Consultant Team
September 2, 2021
Dear UDOT Personnel and Consultant Team,
We appreciate your time-intensive and thoughtful approach to resolving the critical issue of managing the vehicle over-crowding of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The canyon is a treasured destination for our Wasatch Front constituents and millions of out-of-state visitors alike through all seasons of the year. Sadly, we all recognize we are “loving our canyon to death.” We need to provide the public with a sustainable, cost-effective, inclusive, and reliable transportation solution that also enhances the experience of canyon visitors.
The stated purpose of the EIS, “to provide an integrated transportation system that improves the reliability, mobility and safety for all users,” does not account for the fact that the canyon is a place for environmental preservation and solitude, as well as recreation of all kinds. If this project becomes about moving more people in and out of the canyon at faster rates, then we are not “preserving the values of the Wasatch Mountains.”
Both of the currently “preferred alternatives” are problematic. Both would result in significant environmental impacts that endanger our watershed and fail to address the year-round needs and access for all recreational interests, including those of underserved populations.
We do not support the proposed gondola option as it is costly and caters mostly to the ski resorts at the top of the canyon and ignores the many and varying year-round recreational interests throughout the canyon that also must be addressed. Furthermore, the “Enhanced Bus Service in Peak-Period Shoulder Lane (PPSL)” alternative as proposed would inflict an unacceptable level of costly environmental impacts by expanding the road and adding snow sheds in some places.
We believe a third option exists: one that is less expensive; less environmentally impactful; more inclusive; and could be more quickly implemented. We support a modified Enhanced Bus Alternative that takes a phased approach. This alternative would involve the following:
This approach would allow us to proceed relatively quickly with an incremental plan that increases access and convenience for all recreational interests year-round in a manner that is fair, sustainable, and which preserves some of the solitude and environmental integrity of the place. It would also minimize costly and potentially destructive environmental impacts to the canyon and prioritizes the preservation of our critical watershed – the source of our public drinking water – which is in the best long-term interests of our state.
We appreciate your consideration of this modified alternative,
Signed, Members of the Utah House Democratic Caucus
State Representative Gay Lynn Bennion
State Representative Joel Briscoe
State Representative Clare Collard
State Representative Jennifer Dailey-Provost
State Representative Suzanne Harrison
State Representative Sandra Hollins
State Representative Carol Spackman Moss
State Representative Doug Owens
State Representative Stephanie Pitcher
State Representative Angela Romero
State Representative Elizabeth Weight