LAYTON -- Early next year, the state will begin a road project to make some minor fixes to U.S. 89, but future plans for the road are anything but minor.
As the Utah Department of Transportation prepares to realign a few intersections and add a traffic light along U.S. 89 in Uintah, traffic has increased so much on the road in Weber and Davis counties during the past quarter century that state transportation officials say it will eventually be turned into something resembling a major freeway.
"Eventually we want to turn it into a full-blown freeway with freeway interchanges and a frontage road," said Sam Klemm, spokesman for the Wasatch Front Regional Council, the state's transportation planning arm. "But that's still a ways off."
Klemm said the plan for U.S. 89 is listed on the state's Regional Transportation Plan, which was released earlier this year, but it doesn't exist as a single project. Rather, it is several different projects at spot locations along the road.
"We would start from the south and then move north," Klemm said. "The idea is to remove the intersections along the road and then replace them with freeway-type interchanges. Right now, the plan shows it broken down into several projects, but ultimately it would turn into a full freeway."
Most of the work on the highway is scheduled for phase three of the state's RTP, which means construction would be at least 20 years away, but portions of the work are scheduled in phase two, which is 10 years out.
The road will also be widened by at least one lane in each direction if WFRC's plans come to fruition.
According to statistics from the Utah Department of Transportation, U.S. 89 near the Bernard Fisher Highway in Layton had an average daily traffic volume of 45,415 vehicles.
In 2000, in the same area, the daily number was 41,680, meaning the road has almost 4,000 more cars driving on it every day than it did 10 years ago.
"The traffic numbers on U.S. 89 are steadily increasing," said UDOT Region One spokesman Vic Saunders. "It's a major arterial. There are a lot of commuters who use it every day and we have a lot of big trucks using it."
Saunders said UDOT is investigating a number of projects which are currently in the concept design phase that are a part from what the WFRC has proposed.
"It's an important road in (the Top of Utah)," Saunders said. "And we're always looking at how to improve it."