Letter: Frontrunner expansion and Rio Grande Plan are better investments than widening I-15

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Traffic on I-15 in Farmington on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

UDOT recently revealed plans to spend as much as $1.6 billion on a project that would widen I15 to as many as 16 lanes between Salt Lake City and Farmington. These funds could be spent in far better ways.

In the past UTA has stated that a complete double tracking of Frontrunner would cost around a billion dollars, while the authors of the Rio Grande Plan estimate it would cost between three hundred and five hundred million dollars.

These two projects combined would likely cost less than the proposed I15 widening and have a much better outcome. Getting more riders onto Frontrunner will decongest I15, double tracking will improve reliability, frequency, and travel time. The Rio Grande Plan would create a central station much closer to downtown which would also serve to encourage more people to commute by train, and remove some of the most deadly grade crossings in Salt Lake City, saving lives. The current road having less traffic is greatly desirable to a larger road having the same amount of traffic.

Better transit does not only benefit those who use it directly, it benefits everyone. These projects would bring economic growth, cleaner air, and save lives. Transit investments like these deserve the same time and money from the state as large highway projects.

Nathan Strain, Logan

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