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

Wednesday , June 14, 2017 - 5:15 AM

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner Staff

LAYTON — There’s been talk of adding traffic lanes along U.S. 89 through northern Davis County, even limiting access to the increasingly busy roadway at some points to improve traffic flow.

“That corridor is changing, there’s no doubt about it,” said Alex Jensen, Layton’s city manager.

He and other officials in the cities along the roadway, however, are short on specifics about improvements the Utah Department of Transportation has in store as part of a looming upgrade, at least for now. But details of the 8.6-mile, $275 million overhaul — from southern Fruit Heights to the north through Kaysville, Layton and South Weber — should come into better focus on June 20, when UDOT holds an open house in Layton to present the latest project design plans to the public.

For motorists, the likely upshot of it all, UDOT officials hope, is more efficient travel. Traffic on U.S. 89, a major north-south arterial along the Wasatch Front, has increased over the years as the population has surged and it’s expected to keep going up.

“The entire project is about moving traffic more efficiently and safely,” said UDOT spokesman Vic Saunders.

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

South Weber City Manager Tom Smith understands the roadway is to be widened from two to three lanes each direction on the descent from Layton into South Weber. If that pans out, it should help ease the congestion typical at the spot during morning and afternoon rush hours.

Other proposed elements, however, have some more guarded.

Story continues below map.

The proposed construction of an overpass that would haul U.S. 89 traffic over Nicholls Road in Fruit Heights to smooth traffic flow, for instance, has spurred sharp debate in the city. Critics worry about lost access to U.S. 89 via Nicholls Road — a key access point to Fruit Heights — and one of their leaders, resident Jeremy Canter, said the foes may petition UDOT to abandon the overpass element.

The city’s elected leaders, by contrast, laud the proposed change at the intersection, in part, because it improves safety and averts a possible alternative — closing of Nicholls on either side of the highway. It remains to be seen whether UDOT has tweaked the intersection proposal per the critics’ concerns, but Fruit Heights Mayor Don Carroll said city leaders haven’t changed their position.

RELATED: Fruit Heights residents, leaders debate future of busy U.S. 89 crossing in city

Kaysville City Manager Shayne Scott said leaders from that locale have voiced concern about the possible rerouting of Crestwood Road near where it meets U.S. 89 through an undeveloped 13-acre parcel of city-owned land. Kaysville officials have mulled developing a park there, but if Crestwood is diverted through the land as part of the UDOT project, that would likely hamper the park proposal.

“We’d be very, very concerned with that,” Scott said.

Whatever the case, Scott said Kaysville officials conveyed their concerns to UDOT reps and they seemed receptive. “We feel like we’ve been heard,” he said.

Not set in stone

At the June 20 meeting, the public will be able to view maps showing details of planned changes to U.S. 89. It starts at 4:30 p.m. and will be held at Layton High School, 440 Wasatch Drive.

“They can see how it affects local neighborhoods,” Saunders said.

However, there shouldn’t be major surprises. UDOT held a public meeting on the plans last February and agency reps have also met with leaders in each of the cities in the project zone to convey details. What’s more, the documents unveiled next week won’t necessarily reflect the final plans.

“They aren’t anything that’s set in stone,” Saunders said.

RELATED: U.S. 89 upgrade proposal in Davis County raises noise, pollution concerns

UDOT officials will field questions and listen as they fine-tune the plans, with a final project proposal likely completed by this coming fall. Work could start in 2019, even if some elements don’t have universal support.

“There may be opposition, but we’re going to go forward with a road design that is safer and moves the program and needs of the highway,” Saunders said.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.