Utah DOT improved the quality of life for residents and visitors of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon (S.R. 190 and S.R. 210) through a pilot program that delivered better communication, especially regarding roadway accessibility.
Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon lead to some of Utah’s most popular and iconic recreation sites. The canyons have been experiencing increased traffic congestion due to the growing population of the Wasatch Front, combined with rising levels of out-of-state visitors. Winter weather conditions add to travel complexity.
The UDOT Little Cottonwood Environmental Impact Statement began in 2018 to develop transportation solutions to improve reliability, mobility, and safety for Little Cottonwood Canyon. UDOT decided to implement a pilot communications program with the goal to help improve the quality of life for residents and visitors of both canyons through stronger communication as an immediate solution to address transportation challenges.
Challenges in the canyons included limited communications coordination between operational agencies, insufficient real-time updates, lack of official central communications coordination source outside of operations, fragmented and inconsistent transportation information from multiple sources. These challenges drove the discussion for providing a central source of communication for canyon travelers to help them plan their trips to have a better travel experience and improve mobility.
In order to address these challenges, the UDOT Cottonwoods pilot communications program was implemented and a communications coordinator was hired. The communications team is embedded with the canyon roadway operations team to create and publish the most timely, efficient, and accurate information.
Public feedback on the pilot program has shown the value of communication to the users, where 92.8 percent of respondents in an end-of-season survey reported that the information they received improved their overall travel experience.
UDOT is also working on incorporating data and analytics for a traffic volume and time travel planning tool for Cottonwood Canyon travelers. This tool will enable travelers to view estimated traffic counts and travel times to key locations in the canyons to help drivers determine trips.
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