Harrison widening may take homes

Monday , June 09, 2014 - 6:08 PM

OGDEN — Ogden City has a plan to widen the northern portion of Harrison Boulevard, and while work on the project won’t begin this year, at least two residents there are already looking for somewhere else to live.

The nearly $6 million widening is included among the capital improvement projects in Ogden’s fiscal year 2015 budget. The plan calls for Harrison to be widened between 7th Street and the St. James Catholic Church at 495 N. Harrison Blvd. The project also includes a reconfiguration of the intersection at Harrison and 2nd Street.

Ogden City Engineer Justin Anderson said Harrison Boulevard in the project area is growing exceedingly busy, especially during the morning and evening peak travel times. The widening project would allow for a center turn lane on the road, which would improve traffic flow. Also planned are a bike lane, improved sidewalks and better accommodation of on-street parking in the area. 

The intersection at 2nd Street would get a traffic light and be realigned for safety. Anderson said the alignment of 2nd Street and Sheridan Drive is offset, making the 2nd Street intersection dangerous when coupled with the high traffic volumes on Harrison. The project also includes an improved signal at the intersection of 7th Street.

Anderson said much of the project is still in the design phase, but will likely begin sometime in the spring of 2016. As the design work progresses, the city will hold a series of public hearings on the project, likely sometime this fall.

Last year, the Utah Department of Transportation prepared an environmental evaluation of the project, but it only included the portion of Harrison Boulevard between 2nd and 7th Streets. 

That document shows that 25 historic properties — all homes — would be impacted by the project. 

For 23 of the homeowners in the project area, those impacts include giving up anywhere from 25- to 1,229-square-feet of property, although their homes would remain intact.

Two homes, which sit next door to each other at 179 and 189 Harrison Blvd., would be acquired and demolished.

Anderson said impacts beyond 2nd Street won’t be fully known until the full project design is complete.

Genaro Valenciano lives at 189 Harrison and said he’s painfully aware of the project.

"They told us about a year ago,“ Valenciano said. ”But I wasn’t sure exactly when it would happen.“

Valenciano said he has lived in his home for about 15 years and would like to stay there. He said the road in front of his house gets busy and he understands the need to increase capacity there, but that doesn’t make the fact that he’ll have to move soon any easier.

"It’s tough,” he said. “What can I say?”

Valenciano also noted that he recently built a large garage, which appears to be close to the size of his home, on the west portion of his lot. He said he hopes that when his home is acquired, he’ll get a fair price for it.

The project will be funded by a combination of state funds awarded by the Wasatch Front Regional Council, city money and money from the Weber Area Council of Governments.

UDOT spokesman Vic Saunders said the project is considered a “local government project” in which the state contributes money and provides regulatory oversight, but the city is in charge of the construction details.

"We assign a project manager to make sure they follow all of the applicable laws,“ Saunders said.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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