Giving the west side of Salt Lake County an extra blessing to count on Thanksgiving, four new freeway-way like interchanges on Bangerter Highway were completed Monday — while officials announced plans to accelerate work on three more.
“It’s making a big difference in travel times. It’s making it safer out here,” said Carlos Braceras, executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation.
He said that at a ceremony celebrating completion of a $208 million project that converted four intersections into freeway-like interchanges at 5400 South, 7000 South, 9000 South and 11400 South.
UDOT also used the event to announce it is speeding up plans for three other similar conversions at 6200 South, 10400 South and 12600 South.
Construction on the 6200 South interchange will begin next year, beginning with early work to relocate the large Jordan Aqueduct there. Work at 10400 South and 12600 South will begin in 2020 — two years earlier than planned, after the Utah Transportation Commission shifted around funding from other projects.
“That will take our total [of freeway-like interchanges] up to 10” on Bangerter, Braceras said. “We have more to go. We’re excited to continue to work with the state Legislature to find ways to move forward to convert Bangerter into a full freeway.”
He added, “The west side of this county is growing fast, and the road that was built 20 years ago hasn’t been able to keep up with it. Converting these interchanges is making a big difference.”
UDOT previously constructed freeway-like interchanges on Bangerter at 600 West, Redwood Road and 7800 South.
The new interchanges at 5400 South, 7000 South, 9000 South and 11400 South were deemed substantially, complete on Monday, with a parade of large equipment driving off the 9000 South interchange to mark the finish.
However, occasional short-term lane closures are expected during noncommute hours for the next several weeks at the four interchanges as crews complete landscaping, striping and other smaller details at the new interchanges.
“I remember when Bangerter first opened, and we had a lot of left turns at the intersections. There were a lot of accidents. There were fatalities,” West Jordan Mayor Jim Riding said. The new interchanges “are going to reduce a lot of fatalities and accidents. And it will speed along the traffic so much smoother.”
South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey and Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson both thanked UDOT for working with their cities to make changes to resolve residents' concerns with the project, and for helping to speed traffic on Bangerter and on its cross streets.
But one group was not happy on Monday. Some residents who live on New Heritage Drive in West Jordan were in the background protesting, holding signs that said, “UDOT Ruined Our Neighborhood,” and “UDOT Doesn’t Keep Promises.”
They complain that while a new sound wall being built at the 9000 South interchange will tower 11 feet above Bangerter, it will only be a couple of feet tall in their backyards which are at a much higher elevation — saying that creates a danger for children in the area, and also may not do much to reduce noise.
“We understand the need for the project,” said resident Brent Jakobson. “But our kids will be playing with baseballs and soccer balls, and it’s only a two-foot wall.” He said West Jordan donated extra money to ensure the wall would be higher, and residents are not happy with results.
Riding, the West Jordan mayor, confirmed the city gave UDOT $250,000 to raise the wall — expecting it would be four or five feet high behind residences. It said the still-being-built wall appears to be shorter, and officials are trying to work out concerns.