GARDEN CITY — The Utah Department of Transportation has a plan to stop out-of-control trucks on what has recently become a dangerous stretch of U.S. 89 in Northern Utah.
This year, the department will begin a project to build an “escape truck ramp” on U.S. 89 near State Road 30, as the highway comes into Garden City in northwestern Rich County. On Feb. 21, the Utah Transportation Commission approved a measure that gave the project a $1 million funding infusion to cover higher-than-anticipated construction costs.
Ivan Hartle, UDOT’s director of financial programming, said during the project’s design phase, transportation officials determined that the right-of-way needed for construction would cost more than estimated, due to the extent of the slopes that need to be built up to support the ramp. In addition to the new slope that will slow down vehicles, the project will also include a concrete apron that guides runaway vehicles into the optimal position, and a shock-absorbing cable barrier system to stop momentum.
Utah Transportation Commissioner Wayne Barlow, represents Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Morgan, Rich and Weber counties, said the project is crucial, considering growth and increased tourism to Garden City, Bear Lake’s popular summer shore town.
“This is really an important project,” Barlow said. “We’ve had several crashes into Garden City there — this has been badly needed for a long time.”
According to the Associated Press, there have been three serious crashes at the location since late 2018. In August of 2019, two large semi trucks crashed in the area within a week of each other. Injuries in both crashes were minor but vehicles were totaled and storage buildings nearby were damaged. In 2018, a semi truck driver was killed when his truck crashed into a sporting goods store.
According to UDOT traffic statistics, at about 2,500 vehicles per day, the intersection of U.S. 89 and S.R. 30 carries about 25% more traffic today than it did 20 years ago.