While recent comments on the Utah bill SB71 may have skiers worried that road tolls are imminent for the Cottonwood canyons, there must be much more analysis ahead.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser may be occasionally inconvenienced by traffic near his home, but the bill to modernize toll collection is premature.
A detailed study of canyon transportation is available at MountainAccord.com. There are complicated and expensive infrastructure strategies that will fall mostly to UDOT, UTA and the Forest Service. The Accord consultant’s report does conclude that road tolls may be the sustainable funding source.
The primary strategy for reducing cars in the canyons is to get skiers onto buses. But convenience will be the essential factor in that choice. While access fees may have reduced auto traffic in other canyons, the economics for skiers, voracious for fresh snow, are different than for the summer traffic in Mill Creek or American Fork canyons.
There must be additional public dialogue on canyon transportation solutions. Guidance is set to be led by the proposed Central Wasatch Commission. The Mountain Accord recommendations are the summary of their efforts of the past four years.
Jim Burdette, Salt Lake City