OGDEN -- Although they haven't done much with them yet, Utah Department of Transportation officials say they aren't selling any of the properties they've acquired along U.S. 89 in Davis County.
For the past several years, UDOT has been buying up properties along U.S. 89 as it runs between South Weber and Farmington in Davis County.
The state has purchased the properties under a "willing buyer, willing seller" scenario to prepare for a series of eventual expansions to the highway.
But because of the recent lack of any significant construction activity on U.S. 89, there has been speculation that the state was looking to resell the properties and scrap plans for a major expansion of the highway.
Transportation officials say this isn't the case.
UDOT Region One spokesman Vic Saunders said traffic on U.S. 89 is growing at a slower rate than initially expected, but the road will still eventually be overhauled.
And because UDOT already owns many of the properties within the construction corridor, Saunders said, when the time for construction comes, it won't have to acquire any of those homes through eminent domain.
"By buying these properties now, we're staying ahead of the game," Saunders said.
The state already owns more than one-third of the properties in the U.S. 89 corridor through Davis County. Saunders said UDOT currently rents out most of the homes it owns there.
The first major project scheduled for the road is set to take place next spring, when UDOT will extend Antelope Drive to the east, connecting it with U.S. 89.
Antelope Drive currently terminates at about 2650 East, several hundred yards short of U.S. 89.
The Antelope project is just a taste of what is to eventually come for U.S. 89, said Wasatch Front Regional Council spokesman Sam Klemm.
On the state's regional transportation plan, U.S. 89 is scheduled to be expanded from its current four-lane capacity to six lanes.
The first phase of that expansion would take place between Interstate 84 in South Weber and Antelope Drive in Layton. That project is scheduled for construction sometime between 2021 and 2030.
The second phase of the six-lane expansion, from Antelope Drive to Interstate 15 in Farmington, is still at least 20 years out, Klemm said.
Aside from the soon-to-be-constructed Antelope Drive extension, there are also plans to build three new interchanges along the highway, at Gordon Avenue and Oak Hills Drive in Layton and at 400 North in Fruit Heights. Those projects are scheduled to be built within the next seven to 10 years.