HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The state of Utah is about to get a chunk of land from Hill Air Force Base — ground that will be used to build a new entry gate on the installation and a freeway interchange in Sunset.
Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, a sweeping, nearly 2,000-page bill that authorizes more than $738 billion to be spent on American defense programs. The bill includes an Air Force land conveyance measure that will transfer approximately 35 acres at Hill to the Utah Military Installation Development Authority.
Sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, the measure would facilitate a $90 million Interstate 15 interchange at 1800 North in Sunset, along with a new Hill gate there. The majority of the funding for the Utah Department of Transportation project is set to kick in between 2023 and 2024.
As part of the deal, MIDA is set to demolish the Army’s Defense Non-Tactical Generator and Rail Equipment Center at the far west side of the base, which abuts I-15. When the facility was initially built, it wasn’t inside the Hill boundary. But as the base expanded, the Department of Defense chose to keep the center at Hill. The bill stipulates that the center must be demolished no later than two years after the land is formally conveyed.
The new interchange will include flyover ramps on the east side of the freeway and will also provide another entrance into the Falcon Hill Research Park at Hill.
Officials say the project will relieve traffic pressure into Hill, particularly at the base’s west and Roy gates, which are off of the 650 North freeway exit in Clearfield and the 5600 South exit in Roy, respectively. Currently, the base only has two full-time access gates: the west gate and the south gate off of State Route 193 in Layton. The Roy gate is open from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Access into Hill has been an issue for years, with traffic often backing up at the two main gates during peak commute hours.
In a connected, though still unfunded project, UDOT wants to widen 1800 North to five lanes between Main Street and 2000 West. The state also wants to add lanes at Main Street and 2000 West to provide space for turning.
A new railroad bridge that would lift 1800 North over the Union Pacific Railroad and Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner tracks is also part of the proposal. UDOT officials say the bridge will eliminate unsafe interactions between trains, motorists and pedestrians.
The project is estimated to cost $110 million.
Bishop said the defense bill, with its land conveyance measure and other funding for Hill, ensures the base “will continue to play an extremely vital role in our nation’s defense.”