OGDEN — As usual, Northern Utah roads got a lot of attention this year.
And with several projects only beginning this year, or being given the green light to start next year, the trend will continue in 2020. Here are the top five Northern Utah road construction stories for 2019.
Completed in September 2008, the Legacy Parkway has for years featured slower speeds, a quiet road surface, a large truck and billboard ban, a 14-mile continuous trail with no street crossings and a protected nature preserve near the wetlands of the Great Salt Lake. Those unusual characteristics were required by a settlement agreement that was reached by the state and citizen activist groups in 2005 after a lawsuit halted construction on the parkway in 2001.
But the parkway’s 55 mph speed limit and large truck ban will be a thing of the past, beginning next year.
The Utah Legislature previously implemented a statute in which the truck prohibition will automatically expire on Jan. 1, 2020. And though no such clause exists for the speed limit, the Utah Department of Transportation has indicated it will remove those restrictions as well.
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, 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 will facilitate a $90 million Interstate 15 interchange at 1800 North in Sunset, along with a new Hill Air Force Base gate there. The majority of the funding for the UDOT 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.
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.
A reconstruction of U.S. 89 project was initially scheduled to start this year, but was delayed in part by a lawsuit. In April 2018, a grassroots group called “Residents’ Voices United on 89” filed the suit in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake County, asking the court to rule UDOT’s State Environmental Study on the project invalid and thereby halting construction on the project until another environmental review, conducted under National Environmental Policy Act requirements.
The lawsuit has since been resolved and UDOT plans to move forward with the project, though design refinements are still being made, construction is expected to begin in 2020.
The project will rebuild the highway along a 9-mile stretch between Farmington and Interstate 84 in South Weber, transforming U.S. 89 into a six-lane freeway-type facility. Work will include widening the road from four lanes to six, with signalized cross-street intersections eliminated and new interchanges added at 200 North in Kaysville, 400 North in Fruit Heights and at Oak Hills Drive, Gordon Avenue and Antelope Drive in Layton.
In 2019, the state reinvested unused construction funds to expand several near-term projects, including the West Davis Corridor and the reconstruction of U.S. 89.
UDOT added another $150 million to the West Davis Corridor project, which bumps the project’s total value to $750 million and allows the state to build four more miles of four-lane highway. The state’s previous budget for the project meant the final four miles of the 19-mile highway would have only be two lanes wide.
As for U.S. 89, UDOT added $200 million to that project, bringing it’s total value to over $473 million. The new money allowed for a series of design changes that were identified during the state’s environmental study. As part of the changes, U.S. 89 will now cross underneath the local streets and not over the top of them.
This year, the state began work on a $175 million Interstate 15 project through Davis and Weber counties, adding new Express Lanes to north and southbound I-15 between Hill Field Road and Interstate 84 near the Riverdale/Ogden border. As part of the project, UDOT will also replace freeway bridges at Church Street and at 200 South in Clearfield. Bridges at Gentile Street in Layton, 700 South and 650 North in Clearfield, and at 5600 West and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in Roy will also see construction.
The project has resulted in several closures on both the freeway and nearby side streets that are part of the project.
The project will take two years to complete, wrapping up sometime next year. Once the work is finished, the Express Lanes system will extend 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.