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Converting Bangerter into freeway now more remote

Published January 27, 2011 5:45 pm

Transportation • Projections call for50 percent population increase by 2040.
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Proposals to convert Bangerter Highway into a freeway are being pushed further into the future. But more bus-rapid-transit — where express buses have their own highway lanes — may be coming a bit sooner than expected to many areas.

Those are among tweaks made by local governments and regional planners to early proposals about where to spend highway and transit money over the next 30 years in Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties.

The Wasatch Front Regional Council released its final draft of those plans on Thursday, and formally opened a public comment period on them. The council aims to adopt a final plan in May. Details and maps are available online at wfrc.org.

"It's a big deal because no project can be built unless it is on that list," said Michael Jensen, a Salt Lake County Council member who was replaced at Thursday's meeting as chairman of the regional group.

He and new chairman Craig Dearden, a Weber County commissioner, said long-range plans are shifting away from building new highways toward helping existing roads carry more traffic. They say that change comes because the Wasatch Front is running out of places to build new roads, but the three counties expect their population to increase by 50 percent by 2040.

"They are not making any new land, and all the easy fixes have already been made," Jensen said. "It's too cost prohibitive to take out the whole side of a street to get more capacity on roads. So you have to look at bus-rapid-transit … light rail … streetcars. You have to look at all the different options."

Among early proposals was to convert Bangerter Highway into a freeway by 2040. But the latest draft of plans figures money will not be available to do that fully by then. It does project funding that would at least begin the conversion process sometime between 2030 and 2040, beginning at the southern end of Bangerter and working northward.

The current plan foresees construction of two new major highways: the West Davis Highway (an extension of the Legacy Highway northward), and the Mountain View Corridor in western Salt Lake County (which also is projected to begin as a highway and later be converted into a freeway).

Other interesting improvements planned include adding an I-215 interchange on 54th South in Taylorsville, and widening at various times in the next 30 years of 5400 South, 4700 South, 6200 South, 7000 South, 9000 South, 10400 South and 13400 South.

The plan foresees extending bus rapid transit now on 3500 South in West Valley City along it and 3900 South to East Millcreek, and adding bus rapid transit on such roads as 5600 West, Foothill Drive, State Street, 4500 South and 5400 South.

The 30-year plan foresees not only the recently funded streetcar line in Sugar House but extending it to the University of Utah and around to downtown Salt Lake City. It also proposes a streetcar between Weber State University and Ogden's intermodal center. —

Wasatch Front transportation future

The council, which aims to adopt a final plan in May, is seeking public input on transportation plans. Details and maps are available online at wfrc.org.