MORGAN -- Much to the dismay of county officials and area developers, Utah Department of Transportation officials say an Interstate 84 interchange in the Mountain Green area is not likely to happen any time soon.
"Mountain Green is definitely going to have an interchange, but not in the immediate future," said Ahmad Jaber, of UDOT's system planning and programming department.
"From a ranking process, I really don't think this project will make it. We have to look at needs statewide."
Among six other interchanges on UDOT's prioritization list, Morgan's is near the bottom with a ranking of 5 on a scale of 100.
UDOT's prioritization process weighs issues such as traffic-congestion levels and proximity to neighboring interchanges.
A Syracuse interchange is now highest on the list with a score of 75.
County leaders hoping for economic development took heart that a 50 percent contribution from a municipality may help Morgan move the interchange up on the priority list.
"The 50 percent match doesn't guarantee anything, but it has an impact and gets politicians' attention and gets dedicated funds flowing," said Jason Davis, UDOT Region 1 director.
Developer Duane Johnson, who has had plans for commercial development and 675 residential units on 112 acres on the drawing boards for more than four years, has offered to donate land for a future interchange.
The donation could help in the county's efforts to pull together a 50 percent contribution.
"From an economic development standpoint, this is a conversation that really needs to be had," said Sid Creager, Morgan County Council chairman. "It would be difficult to say, 'Welcome to Mountain Green. Please exit at Peterson.' "
UDOT officials agreed to meet with Johnson to help identify future placement of the interchange, even if plans are not realized right away.
"Once all that traffic comes pouring off the hill out of Powder Mountain and Snowbasin, traffic will become intense in Mountain Green on Old Highway (Road)," Johnson said.
"It will get heavier as time goes on. It would be our hope that the county council work with UDOT to determine where that interchange will be built and we preserve that strip of land."
UDOT officials praised efforts by the developer and the county to think ahead and refrain from building on land that could be used for the future interchange, which may cost $30 million to $40 million.
"The county is being very proactive at looking for opportunities," Davis said.
In the meantime, Morgan County is assembling major players in support of the interchange.
"Weber County recognizes this is a major corridor to the Ogden Valley," Creager said. "Weber County has a dog in the fight, and Commissioner (Craig) Dearden wanted me to express his strong support" of a future interchange.
Snowbasin officials, who are planning future construction of 2,500 residential units in Morgan County, are supportive of a Mountain Green interchange as well, said Becky Zimmerman, with the planning office of Design Workshop.
According to a Snowbasin-commissioned traffic study, 90 percent of Ogden Valley's traffic comes through Morgan County and over Trappers Loop. The other 10 percent comes through Ogden Canyon.
Creager said: "This will not move forward unless we create the priority."