SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake City state leaders are inviting the public to the Utah State Fairpark on Wednesday to discuss the Utah Department of Transportation’s proposal to widen I-15.
The listening session is set to take place at the Zion Building at the Utah State Fairpark on Wednesday, June 7, at 6:30 p.m.
In the latest update to UDOT’s project, the department is leaning towards the “narrowest” possible option for widening I-15. The project would also include several changes to intersections between the interstate and local roads, making them more accessible to pedestrians, bikers, and vehicle traffic. UDOT’s study area would stretch along the I-15 corridor from Salt Lake City to Farmington in Davis County.
UDOT said the renovations are necessary, citing aging infrastructure, travel demand, and safety concerns.
The proposal to widen I-15 has been controversial. While UDOT says it needs to be done and has been actively searching for the least disruptive option, some have voiced concerns about houses and businesses near the interstate. In the narrowest option being considered by UDOT, an estimated 43 residential buildings and 27 businesses would potentially need to be adversely affected. This is in comparison to the most invasive option, where 134 homes and 43 businesses would be forced to move.
Overall, UDOT said widening I-15 would help reduce travel time on I-15 along the Wasatch Front. The latest screening report released on May 1 shows UDOT estimates about a 50% reduction in travel time, increasing average speeds between 95% and 125% during the peak commute times in the morning and evening.
Studies from Transportation of America and the Rocky Mountain Institute have both shown this alleviation in traffic could be short-lived, arguing that widening the interstate actually creates more traffic in the long term.
Currently, UDOT’s I-15 project is still in its preparatory phases. The department is currently drafting its Environmental Impact Study (EIS), which is expected to be released later this fall. Once made public, UDOT will schedule public hearings and open up a 45-day public comment period before revisiting the EIS and making a final decision.
Wednesday’s listening session at the Utah State Park provides an opportunity for state leaders in the Salt Lake area to meet with the community ahead of the draft EIS release and discuss what has been proposed.