If the Utah Department of Transportation were actually called the Utah Department of Roads, we could at least understand why the government agency is only capable of building roads at the expense of Utah’s future.
Yesterday, UDOT held its first public meeting to display its plans for how to handle growth North of Salt Lake City through Davis County. Their solution was…horrific.
For those of you counting, that is 8 shoulder lanes, 2 auxilrially lanes (for on and off ramps), 7 standard lanes, and 6 bypass lanes, which will serve as a reversible express lane to handle traffic loads during rush hour (presumably prioritizing southbound traffic into Salt Lake in the morning and northbound traffic in the evening).
That is 23 lanes of traffic from 600 North in Salt Lake to Highway 89 in Farmington. This option would maintain current speeds the best and be, on average, 288 feet across – a 40 to 60% increase in the size of I-15.
That’s right, UDOT’s only solution to future traffic woes is to have a football field-wide ribon of road from Salt Lake to Farmington.
Let’s do some back-of-the-napkin math on this.
The CORE project in Utah County cost UDOT $1.7 Billon and added 4 to 6 total lanes of traffic to 24 miles of road between Lehi and Spanish Fork – meaning between $11.8 and $17.7 Million per lane mile. Lets make the math easy and say $15 Million on average.
This project would add 8-10 new lanes for 18 miles of road. 18 miles of road times 10 new lanes times $15 Million per mile lane comes out to a cool $2.7 Billion.
To put this into perspective, $2.7 Billion would cover ALL of UTA’s operating expenses for almost 7 years based off of UTA’s 2023 draft budget.
To further put this into perspective, NONE of UTA’s revenue currently comes from the State of Utah, which allocates funds to the Utah Department of Transportation.
Yes, every single day-to-day operating cost, from maintenance, fuel, and employee pay, would be 100% covered for 7 straight years.
To provide even more perspective, it cost a total of $1.99 Billion (in 2022 dollars) to construct 81 miles of rail from Ogden to Provo – Thats $700 Million LESS for 63 MORE miles of high-capacity infrastructure.
Never mind the fact, of course, that such an expansion of I-15 would only encourage more sprawl, further divide communities, and encourage more tailpipes to spew out emissions that add to our annual inversion.
But, does UDOT even consider transit as part of it’s proposal? Of course not. The closest it comes is asking the question “Will this massive expansion of I-15 interfere with UTA’s plans to possibly double track FrontRunner?”
For UDOT the only solution to growth has been, and continues to be, building “Just One More Lane” to help fix traffic. This, of course, is how we got ourselves into this mess in the first place.
Some friendly advice to UDOT: When you are stuck in a hole, stop digging.
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