SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has refined its alternatives to its I-15 corridor project through Davis County, from Salt Lake City to Farmington, and, per its report, it’s leaning towards the “narrowest option.”
In November 2022, UDOT began its Environmental Impact Study (EIS) process to assess the impacts of the project and initial alternatives to consider. UDOT said I-15 in Davis County needs to be reassessed and renovated due to aging infrastructure, travel demand, and safety.
UDOT suggested several alternatives during the first phase of its assessments, including more express lanes, reversible lanes, or bypass lanes. After opening the alternatives to public comment, which closed in January 2023, UDOT announced it is leaning towards five general-purpose lanes with one express lane.
According to UDOT expanding I-15 in Davis County with five lanes and an express lane would be the least impactful. The report shows only 43 residential properties and 27 business properties would potentially need to be relocated while only seven “historical” buildings would potentially be “adversely affected”
This is in contrast to the most impactful option – widening I-15 to include three express lanes and three to four general lanes each way – which would potentially require 134 homes, 43 businesses, and 20 historic buildings to relocate or have adverse effects. Putting in reversible lanes would reportedly also have a large impact on homes and businesses, and UDOT says it’s not feasible due to operational and maintenance costs.
UDOT also estimated the narrowest option would still reduce travel time by about 50% and increase average speeds anywhere from 95% to 125% during peak commute times in the morning and evenings.
During the public comment period, many community members voiced a desire to have a transit-only option, which UDOT turned down as a possibility.
“A transit-only alternative would not meet the purpose of the project because it would not address aging infrastructure needs on I-15, improve safety on I-15, or meet the projected travel in 2050,” the report read.
As for more transit-focused alternatives such as TRAX lanes running through the middle of I-15 or a double-track FrontRunner commuter rail, UDOT said it wouldn’t be enough to offset commuters on the interstate enough to reduce the need for the project.
There is still a lot of work to be done before the project really starts moving forward. According to the project’s website, UDOT is still in the phase of drafting an EIS. Once released, it will be open for a 45-day public comment period and there will be a public hearing to explain the findings.
The draft is expected to be available in Fall 2023.