MOUNTAIN GREEN — The Utah Department of Transportation is purchasing a $6 million chunk of property in Mountain Green, a buy the state says is necessary despite the fact the project they’re preserving land for could take decades to build.
On Friday, the Utah Transportation Commission approved UDOT’s purchase of two properties near 5000 W. Old Highway Road in Morgan County. The pieces of land, which total about 24 acres, are within the right-of-way of a proposal that would build a full interchange at Interstate 84 in Mountain Green, near the Trappers Loop Highway.
The current half interchange there is commonly used as a gateway to the Upper Ogden Valley, providing access to outdoor recreational activities at places like Huntsville’s Snowbasin Resort, Eden’s Powder Mountain and Pineview and Causey Reservoirs.
The project exists on Phase 3 of UDOT’s Long-Range Transportation Plan, which means it’s not scheduled to be built until sometime around 2040, but officials from Morgan and Davis counties, Ski Utah, Snowbasin, the Northern Utah Chamber Coalition and residents of Mountain Green have all lobbied the state to expedite the full interchange project.
The coalition has cited various rationales for the acceleration, from safety and traffic mobility to economic development.
Charles Stormont, UDOT’s director of Right-of-Way said that around $250,000 per acre, the land UDOT is purchasing is relatively expensive. But acquiring it figures to be more costly and difficult the longer the state waits, as several impending development projects loom on the horizon.
A 225 acre swath of land near the southern end of Trappers Loop in Mountain Green is set to be developed soon, a project that includes hotels, retail space, office and warehouse space — all anchored by a grocery store.
Snowbasin also plans to develop 1,191 acres on the resorts southern end, just inside the Morgan County boundary. The expansion is preliminary with no immediate plans for construction, but it could include a new golf course and nearly 2,500 new residential, commercial and office units.
“With the type of development going on in the area it’s not surprising it’s this high,” Stormont said. “The (interchange) project is a little ways out, but given the development that is coming, if we do not acquire now, we will have a very hard time acquiring later and we’ll pay a much steeper price.”
Transportation commissioners approved the buy Friday, but not without at least a little pause.
“That’s a chunk of change,” said Commissioner Meg Holbrook.
The majority of the land, 21 acres, is vacant and owned by Soderby LLC. Soderby has owned the property for 35 years and are planning to develop a larger, adjacent portion when the interchange is ultimately built. The remaining three acres UDOT is purchasing is owned by Timothy Lundin and includes a single-family home and other outbuildings.
UDOT Region One Director Kris Peterson said UDOT can ultimately sell and surplus unused land back into the market. He said UDOT is working on a study to determine the feasibility of moving up the interchange project. The study should be completed by spring.
“As we finish that study up ... then we’ll have a much better idea of what we need,” Peterson said.