UDOT wants to turn Highway 89 into a freeway

Thursday , August 24, 2017 - 4:27 PM

MITCH SHAW, Standard-Examiner Staff

LAYTON — The Utah Department of Transportation has given its preference for the future of U.S. 89 through Davis County.

And it involves turning the nearly 100-year-old highway into a full-functioning freeway.

The state released its draft Environmental Study for a potential project on a nine-mile section of U.S. 89 between Farmington and Interstate 84 in South Weber. 

RELATED: UDOT study could initiate major change for Highway 89, eastern Davis County

The draft includes UDOT’s “preferred alternative” for the corridor, which includes widening the road from four lanes to six, eliminating cross-street access and building interchanges at 400 North in Fruit Heights and at Oak Hills Drive, Gordon Avenue and Antelope Drive in Layton. The state’s plan would also feature two overpasses where U.S. 89 spans over the top of Nicholls Road in Fruit Heights and Crestwood Road in Kaysville.

The option includes several other components, like building new side roads to improve local access and replacing bridges along the highway. 

UDOT has been studying the corridor since 2016, looking at several other options to combat safety and traffic issues on the road. Other alternatives considered were a “non-action alternative” that would have maintained the road’s current configuration and another freeway option that included a one-way frontage road.

RELATED: Davis County U.S. 89 plans entail big changes at many intersections

By 2040, the transportation department figures average daily traffic on U.S. 89 will increase by 40 percent as land-use patterns continue to change and development in the area increases. And according to the state’s draft study, the road is already operating at failing conditions. 

The number of crashes on the road are also increasing, the draft says, where traffic congestion and signalized intersections can cause sudden speed changes. Congestion and speed are also causing safety issues for vehicles entering the road from cross-streets, especially for those turning left onto the roadway.

Mike Romero, UDOT’s manager of the U.S. 89 project, said the chosen option will address the traffic and safety concerns and when compared to all other build alternatives, has fewer relocations, fewer adverse effects to historic properties and will cost less. UDOT’s option will also improve connectivity between I-84 and I-15, according to the draft.

“This is the best option for improving safety and flow along that corridor,” Romero said.

RELATED: U.S. 89 upgrade details in Davis County may come into better focus at meeting

If the “non-action” option was chosen, Romero said UDOT modeling estimates that by 2040, it would take a motorist one hour to traverse the nine-mile section of U.S. 89 between Farmington and I-84 in average traffic.

The state’s release of the draft on Thursday opens up the formal public comment period on the project, said UDOT spokesman Vic Saunders. UDOT will now accept comments through Sept. 25. The study can be viewed in its entirety at www.udot.utah.gov/us89. Comments can be submitted at the website, by emailing us89@utah.gov or by calling 888-752-US89 (8789)

Comments can also be mailed to the US-89 State Environmental Study, c/o FrontLine Public Involvement, P.O. Box 1033, Farmington, UT 84025.

The project team will hold a public hearing on draft from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Davis Conference Center, 800 Heritage Park Boulevard, Layton.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mitchshaw.standardexaminer/.

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