SALT LAKE CITY—After months and months of study – and some heavy pushback from residents – the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) released its draft study last Thursday of the preferred alternative for the US-89 corridor from Farmington to I-84 in Uintah.
“We looked at 40 plus concepts,” said Vic Saunders, communications manager for UDOT – Region One. “This alternative was selected because it met the purpose of the study, had the least environmental impact and the fewest additional property acquisitions and addressed the concerns raised by the public.”
The Freeway Alternative calls for widening US-89 from four lanes to a six-lane freeway from Shepard Lane to I-84 with limited access. Current intersections would be eliminated or converted to a grade-separated interchange to provide ingress and egress to and from the freeway system, according to UDOT.
At an open house held in June, a group of residents living along the route held signs and gathered signatures protesting the expansion, but ultimately UDOT has plans to move forward.
“We’ve received hundreds and hundreds of comments,” said Saunders. “We’ve held a lot of big public meetings and a lot of people have been concerned. The general response is that they want to see it go forward. We realize the impact on them (public), but people will be able to get to where they’re going effectively.”
Saunders said that by 2040 there would be total gridlock on US-89 if something is not done. “If we do nothing it will take over an hour to get from Farmington to south Ogden,” he said. “Traffic is increasing on that roadway during peak hours. Motorists can wait through several lights to get through. This will solve that problem and improve it. Right now you can’t go east and west, it’s too crowded.”
Residents against the proposal contend it doesn’t address the heavy truck traffic. “If trucks had to use another route it would add 23 miles total to what they could do in 10 if they use that corridor,” said Saunders. “Our modeling of that interchange shows trucks are not a significant part of the annual traffic growth.”
UDOT will host another public hearing Thursday, Sept. 7 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Davis Conference Center, 800 Heritage Park Boulevard in Layton. The public is encouraged to attend to learn more about the study and preferred alternative.
“The main purpose of the public hearing is to provide clarity on the preferred alternative, as well as to gather public input,” said UDOT Project Manager Michael Romero in a release. “Members of the project team will be available at the hearing to answer any questions.”
“If you look at studies as far back as the early 90s it shows that corridor is the kind people want to use,” said Saunders. “It’s a 10 mile ‘short cut’ if you will. Through the study we’re seeing the traffic building.”
A formal public comment period began Aug. 24 and continues through Monday, Sept. 25. The public can also view the study draft and make comments at www.udot.utah.gov/us89 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 888-752-US89 (8789).