BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
LAYTON — The Express Lane system will one day extend from Smith and Edwards in northern Weber County to Spanish Fork, and that should help freeway congestion, a Davis County legislator said.
Utah Sen. Stuart Adams, a member of the State Senate Standing Transportation Committee, spoke to the Clipper about express lanes last week after Utah Department of Transportation Deputy Director Carlos Braceras presented information to the Legislature’s Transportation Interim Committee in Salt Lake City.
At that committee meeting, Braceras said that express lanes have proved so successful that UDOT has plans to expand the system through Davis and Weber counties.
Adams agrees the lanes have been successful.
“Carpool lanes are not used a lot, but the express lane are open to anyone and get a lot more use,” he said.
Adams no longer serves on the interim committee, but has been heavily involved with express lanes and transportation issues overall.
The express lane system in Utah charges motorists to travel in specific lanes for extended distances. Motorists can only enter and exit the lanes at designated points. Travel is usually faster than in the general travel lanes.
Currently, the express lane system runs through Salt Lake County, a portion of Utah County, and a smaller portion of Davis County. Once the I-15 Core project through Utah County is completed in December. Two miles of express lane will be added there.
In Davis County, Adams said there’s only a small section of express lane open between Parrish Lane in Centerville and the Layton Parkway.
UDOT is conducting studies on the express lane system through Davis and Weber counties, Adams said. Initial plans call for adding an express lane between Ogden’s 31st Street and Spanish Fork.
He said funding for the lanes will come from tax revenue deposited into the Centennial Highway Fund, as mandated by Sen. Bill 229, passed during the 2011 Utah Legislature.
Construction on the lanes could begin as early as next year, he said. He explained the project will be funded on “a pay as we go,” basis, meaning construction will be spread out over several years, since the project will cost “a couple of million dollars,” Adams said.
Still, he expects construction on the lanes to be completed before the West Davis Corridor is finished through Davis and Weber counties. Adams said the lanes aren’t a great revenue source for the state. Their advantage comes in reducing congestion.
Seventeen percent of drivers using the lanes are doing so illegally, state statistics show. To drop that number, the Utah Highway Patrol recently held a three-day blitz to ticket express lane violators. UHP plans to hold more such blitzes.