RIVERDALE — The state is making more room for carpoolers.
The Utah Department of Transportation is currently conducting an environmental study on a project that would add express lanes on Interstate 15, from I-215 in North Salt Lake to U.S. 89 in Farmington, and from Hill Field Road in Layton to the junction with I-84 in Riverdale.
The new lanes would total 21 miles on both the north and south sides of the freeway.
UDOT Region One spokesman Vic Saunders said the objective of the study is to obtain environmental clearance to connect the Express Lanes on I-15 in central Davis County to those in Salt Lake County, and to fill in missing sections in Weber and Davis counties.
There are currently I-15 express lanes from Main Street in Lehi to 2300 North in Salt Lake City and from Parrish Lane in Centerville to the Layton Parkway in Layton.
Saunders said the state eventually wants the express lanes to stretch from Lehi to Ogden.
“The plan is to make it one continuous stretch, without any interruptions on the busiest part of I-15 in the state,” Saunders said.
UDOT hopes to have concept designs for the road finalized by the end of the summer and public hearings will be held in late fall.
Final environmental clearance is expected by early spring of 2013 and construction would likely begin soon after.
The Wasatch Front Regional Council, the state’s transportation planning agency, has programmed $60 million toward the project for 2013 and another $26 million for 2014, as part of the 2012-2017 Transportation Improvement Program.
Express lanes, designed to promote carpooling, are free to vehicles with two or more occupants, but solo drivers who want to use the express lanes can purchase an electronic transponder that tracks their use of the lanes.
Electronic overhead signs show drivers the cost of entering the lane, and an online account is debited as they use the lane. Rates are adjusted in real time based on how much traffic is in the lanes.