While there are numerous elected officials opposed to a potential gondola through Little Cottonwood Canyon, the idea of a massive system of overhead cars has at least one proponent in elected office: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.
During his monthly news conference Thursday, Cox said he supports the idea of a gondola in the canyon, adding that the state would have to spend a large amount of money to address transportation in the canyon no matter the solution. The latest estimate from the Utah Department of Transportation says building a gondola would cost around $500 million.
“I’m on record a long time ago saying that I think the gondola is a good idea,” Cox said.
The governor told the Deseret News in January 2021 that he was “leaning” toward the gondola proposal, though that was before UDOT’s August recommendation for the gondola. Last January, UDOT listed the gondola, a cog railway and expanding the roadway for bus-dedicated lanes as options for the canyon.
Cox added Thursday that he also supported UDOT’s move to implement expanded bus services to the canyon as a short-term solution. He added that UDOT’s plan would allow the Legislature to see what is and what isn’t working, as lawmakers will ultimately make the call on whether or not to fund the project.
Last month, both the Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County councils passed resolutions condemning the plan. County Mayor Jenny Wilson called on members of the public to oppose the gondola after UDOT made its August recommendation.
Largely those who have publicly supported the gondola have been the ski resorts in the canyon. Snowbird, a vocal proponent of the gondola, started an advocacy group — called Gondola Works — to push for its construction. In Sept. 2021, Snowbird also quietly bought two plots of land where the proposed gondola base station would be built.
UDOT has yet to finalize its gondola recommendation. On Monday, the opportunity for the public to share comments with the department expired. UDOT is set to finalize its decision sometime this winter.