FARMINGTON — While the transportation department wraps up a study on how noisy the eventual new U.S. 89 will be, early next year the state will begin asking residents in the area how they feel about a noise wall.
The Utah Department of Transportation is finalizing the design and construction schedule for a $470 million reconstruction of U.S. 89 through Weber and Davis counties. The project will widen the highway from four lanes to six, between Farmington and Interstate 84, 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.
At Nicholls Road in Fruit Heights and Crestwood Road in Kaysville, U.S. 89 will pass under those streets. The plan also includes new side roads, pedestrian bridges, a multi-use trail and bicycle improvements.
UDOT is continuing with property acquisitions and finalizing a noise study on the project. According to UDOT’s website for the U.S. 89 project, noise wall balloting is expected to occur in January 2020.
Federal and state guidelines determine when noise walls are needed. The guidelines require UDOT to determine the effectiveness of noise walls, the cost and whether or not a majority of residents living in the proposed path of a noise wall want it. Before construction begins on a project, UDOT measures noise levels in the area and calculates how much louder the noise will be with a new road. The state then calculates how much a noise wall would cut back on the noise.
If the state determines a wall will make a reasonable reduction in noise and can be built at a reasonable cost, the issue is taken to voters. UDOT is required to identify homes, business and churches that will be most impacted by a potential noise wall. Only residents and property owners who will benefit the most from the wall get to vote, which is done through a mail-in ballot.
In order for the noise wall to be built, at least 75% of the mailed out ballots need to be returned and at least 75% of the returned ballots need a “yes” vote.
With noise wall balloting on the horizon, the state will be doing preparatory work on the highway for the next several months. Surveying, right of way work, tree removal and the salvage and demolition of vacant UDOT-owned properties in select areas is ongoing.
The U.S. 89 project has been changed and expanded since it was first announced four years ago.
In March, UDOT announced it would seek to add some $200 million to the project, allowing 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.
In October, the Utah Transportation Commission approved a deal that allowed UDOT to abandon a planned $2 million Interstate 84 bridge deck replacement project in Uintah, and transfer the money to U.S. 89. The money will be used to rehabilitate two bridges over the Weber River on U.S. 89, approximately 0.2 miles south of the original project boundary.
UDOT’s website states the project is slated to start in April 2021.