2. UDOT News

UDOT to install new remote avalanche control systems in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Recreation area closed during construction. New systems will allow for safer and more efficient avalanche mitigation

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) will begin installing new remote-controlled avalanche mitigation equipment next week that will enhance safety and improve the efficiency of avalanche mitigation efforts in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Beginning July 8 through October, UDOT will install 16 Wyssen Avalanche Towers in Little Cottonwood Canyon (SR-210) on the Mount Superior ridgeline above the road. While there will be no major road impacts anticipated, canyon visitors can expect occasional, short-term closures in both directions on SR-210 near the Town of Alta. Additionally, the bypass road will always remain open, as an alternative route to the upper canyon areas.

“We encourage everyone who recreates in the upper canyon to plan ahead, visit the project website and look at the map of the closure area where the Wyssen Avalanche Towers will be installed,” UDOT Region Two Project Manager Becky Stromness said. “Respecting the construction area closure will help us get the new towers installed as safely and quickly as possible so we can begin using them this winter.”

Using wireless communications, Wyssen Avalanche Towers deploy explosive charges that hang just over ground to trigger an avalanche. Previously, avalanche and road crews used howitzers to trigger approximately 330 controlled avalanches each season. But with the Wyssen Avalanche Towers, crews will be able to trigger avalanches from a safe location and greater efficiency.

“This project is part of UDOT’s long-term plan to reduce the amount of military artillery fired in the canyon,” UDOT Avalanche Safety Program Manager Steven Clark said. “By using this technology, we will enhance safety and become even more effective at preventing avalanches from reaching our roads”

Crews will work up to seven days a week, removing loose rock and unstable soil, adding safety features and then beginning the lengthy installation process—which includes using special helicopters to lift heavy pieces of equipment to their respective locations

UDOT plans for the towers to be complete and operational for the 2024 and 2025 winter season. For public and construction crew safety, Mount Superior recreation area closures – including the trails and climbing routes within that area – will be in effect for the duration of the project, due to daily helicopter operations and other hazards like potential rockfall.

For the latest construction updates, follow UDOT Cottonwoods on social media (Instagram, X (Twitter), Facebook and Threads) and visit udotinput.utah.gov/mtsuperioravalanchemitigation for more information.

Share this article to your social network: