Work is officially underway on the West Davis Highway — the 16-mile, four-lane divided highway intended to improve access in western Davis County.
Construction already had begun, but Utah Department of Transportation Executive Director Carlos Braceras, Utah Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, and Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, climbed in some heavy equipment for the ceremonial start Tuesday morning, using large excavators to “break ground” on the highway.
They also delivered remarks — when they could, given the frequent interruptions from Hill Air Force Base fighter jets overhead.
“That’s the sound of freedom,” said Schultz, who joked that Adams must have ordered a flyover.
The $800 million West Davis Highway is expected to be completed in 2023 and, according to UDOT, will reduce congestion on roads west of Interstate 15 by more than 30% by 2040.
Adams said it shouldn’t take Davis County residents 45 to 60 minutes to get to Salt Lake City; it should be 15 to 35 minutes. And, he said, the new highway will make that possible — even though there are projections that, by 2040, the number of households in the county will swell by 65%.
The first phase of the new freeway will connect to Legacy Parkway and I-15 at Glovers Lane in Farmington, terminating at 4500 West and the future extension of State Road 193 in West Point. Future construction will extend the West Davis Highway to 1800 North in Clinton.
The route was proposed in 2013 and finally approved in 2017 — with a few tweaks — by UDOT and the Federal Highway Administration after years of objections by environmentalists, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and homeowners.
The new highway will have noise-reducing pavement; lighting only at interchanges to minimize interference with nocturnal wildlife; and more than 10 miles of trails. But unlike the Legacy Parkway, the West Davis Highway will allow semitrucks; will have a 65 mph speed limit (as opposed to the original 55 mph on Legacy); and will allow billboards, although cities can ban them in their boundaries.