OGDEN — A massive Interstate 15 project, already worth $161 million, has been approved for an additional cash infusion of $14 million.
The Utah Transportation Commission recently approved transferring the funds to next year's I-15 Express Lanes project, bringing the total value of the initiative to $175 million.
Ivan Hartle, the Utah Department of Transportation‘s director of financial programming, said the funds will be taken from the I-15 South Davis Express Lanes project, which was completed in 2015.
UDOT Region One Director Kris Peterson said contingency funds were budgeted into the South Davis Project because of financial complexities related to right-of-way acquisition, utility relocations and some other construction unknowns. Peterson said the state was able to minimize some of the costs related to those items during construction, which accounts for the leftover funds.
The transportation department will begin their newest Express Lanes project in early 2019, adding new lanes to north and southbound I-15 between Hill Field Road and Interstate 84 near the Riverdale/Ogden border.
The project will expand UDOT’s Express Lanes system, which allows carpoolers, buses, motorcycles, emergency vehicles and clean-fuel vehicles. The addition will extend the system to 82 miles, running contiguously from Utah County to Weber County.
The expansive project was funded in 2017 after the Utah Legislature approved a bill that allowed the state to expedite certain transportation projects with a $1 billion, four-year bond.
UDOT will also replace freeway bridges at Church Street in Layton and at 200 South in Clearfield, as part of the project. They will replace bridge decks at Gentile Street in Layton, at 700 South and 650 North in Clearfield, and at 5600 West and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in Roy.
The project will likely begin in March of 2019 and will take two years to complete.
The state’s Express Lanes system allows solo drivers the lane for a fee when space is open. An electronic payment process charges solo drivers by using an algorithm that adjusts the price based on current traffic conditions. Costs are higher when I-15 is more congested.
During the 2018 legislative session, state lawmakers approved a measure that doubled the state’s Express Lane toll for single-occupancy drivers, bumping the maximum toll rate from $1 per segment to $2 per segment, or from about 10 cents to 20 cents per mile.