LAYTON — The transportation department continues to pocket land ahead of a massive reconstruction project on U.S. 89 set to begin in just over a year.
They’re also grabbing property for a similar project that’s still years away.
The Utah Department of Transportation is acquiring two properties just off of the highway — one that will help clear the way for a large interchange associated with the near term expansion of U.S. 89 and another that preserves space for a years-down-the-road continuation of it.
The state recently finished a yearlong environmental study on a $275 million overhaul of U.S. 89 that involves transforming the highway into a six-lane freeway-type facility.
The plan calls for UDOT to widen U.S. 89 from four lanes to six on a nine mile section of the highway between Farmington and Interstate 84 in South Weber. Eliminating signalized cross-street intersections and building interchanges at 400 North in Fruit Heights and at Oak Hills Drive, Gordon Avenue and Antelope Drive in Layton are also part of the plan.
In addition, the state will build two overpasses — one where the highway runs over Nicholls Road in Fruit Heights and the other where it runs over Crestwood Road in Kaysville. The plan also includes new side roads and bridges.
Expansion of the road has been discussed for years, but the state says the need to commence construction has come about only recently, with a major uptick in traffic occurring over the past few years. UDOT statistics show daily traffic on the road increased by about 5,000 vehicles between 2005 and 2015.
UDOT Region One spokesman Vic Saunders said the project will likely begin in earnest sometime in 2020.
To accommodate the work, the state will swap some land with Layton City to facilitate the new interchange at Oak Hills Drive. Charles Stormont, UDOT’s director of Right-of-Way, said the state will give Layton a 2.1-acre parcel of land (just north of where the interchange will be built) in exchange for a 5-acre parcel needed for the structure.
Despite the difference in acreage, both pieces of land were appraised for just under $500,000, Stormont said. Layton was agreeable to the exchange because it wants to use the property to build a new fire station.
While that project is on the horizon, the state is preparing for a northern extension of it, work that is at least a decade away.
UDOT is also acquiring a property off of U.S. 89, just a few miles north of Interstate 84 in Uintah. A home there was for sale by owner Dennis Longfellow and had been appraised at $585,000. Stormont said the property includes an access point that the state wants to cut off.
“This property had a for sale sign,” he said “Eliminating this access point for such a high speed road and knowing that we have an expansion coming, probably 10 years out — being able to start closing access points would be very helpful to that project.”
UDOT has been preparing for a U.S. 89 expansion (in some form) for more than 20 years. The state completed an Environmental Impact Study on the road in 1996 and has been slowly purchasing property in the area since then. The state now owns more than 70 properties along the corridor.