SLTrib: State wants to Utah County cities to take over old roads

State wants to Utah County cities to take over old roads
By Brandon Loomis

The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake Tribune
Updated:08/14/2009 06:35:45 AM MDT


Saratoga Springs » Having spent hundreds of millions of dollars on new highways to serve fast-growing northern Utah County, the state now wants to unload old regional thoroughfares and their maintenance costs on cities.

Cities from Highland to Saratoga Springs say they can't afford it. But the Utah Department of Transportation believes highways now under construction -- most notably Pioneer Crossing from American Fork to Saratoga Springs -- will turn the old highways into local streets unworthy of the state highway network.

And the state also has a budget crunch that would make maintaining both old and new lanes a challenge.

"It really puts the department [UDOT] in a bind," UDOT regional director Dave Nazare told the Utah Transportation Commission as it considered the transfer at a meeting here Thursday.

The state wants to hand off State Route 73 because it's building the larger, parallel Pioneer Crossing to the south. SR-73 has served as the main connection from the Provo-Orem area through American Fork and Lehi to the mushrooming bedroom communities of Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain. It's mostly a three-lane road, whereas the $253 million Pioneer Crossing will have seven lanes.

UDOT also proposes that American Fork, Highland and Alpine take over the north-south connector on State Route 74, and that Pleasant Grove and Cedar Hills take State Route 146 east of there. North County Boulevard runs north-south roughly midway between those two highways, and it's about to become a state highway when Utah County completes a widening project.

UDOT also wants to give State Route 197 within Lehi to the city, while taking on maintenance for a proposed 2100 North freeway there.

In all, the state would transfer 40 lane miles to cities while taking on 79 new lane miles. Commissioners took testimony Thursday but have not scheduled a vote.

It's a matter of thousands or tens of thousands in maintenance dollars for the cities. UDOT spent $80,000 over five years maintaining SR-74, and $87,000 in the same period for a five-mile stretch of SR-73, Nazare said. That includes all routine maintenance, such as striping and pothole filling.

Maintenance costs for the other state highways were not immediately available.

Lehi Mayor Howard Johnson said Pioneer Crossing will serve the bulk of future commuters through his city, but it won't cut down on traffic across SR-73. Up to 30,000 cars a day use the highway past Main Street in Lehi, he said. Without Pioneer Crossing, that would grow to 90,000. But growth projections indicate that, even with Pioneer Crossing, SR-73 would keep serving 30,000 cars.

Those cars don't stop at city limits, Johnson said, so SR-73 should remain a state highway.

"That traffic is not Lehi," he said. "It's intercity. That's our neighbors to the west going through."

Representatives of American Fork, Alpine and Highland also protested the transfers. Saratoga Springs Mayor Timothy Parker said he could go along with the plan, because only a short segment of SR-73 would become his city's responsibility.

Views: 399

Comment by TiffanyUlmer on August 14, 2009 at 10:36am
The only comment that was irritating
"That traffic is not Lehi," he said. "It's intercity. That's our neighbors to the west going through."

When two other bipass roads to get through Lehi are completely done including the on ramps in the next 12-24 months. I'd love UDOT to take a week and close SR 73 off at the bridge. I would like the Lehi Mayor to realize that the growth on their West side is also creating the major traffic. They have at least the population of EM if not EM and SS now residing on the west side that didn't exist there previously. Many EM and SS have already learned the back streets to avoid SR 73 to get around it. Some of that road traffic is Lehi's. If the southern route freeway wasn't so opposed by Lehi, they could have removed a bigger majority of the EM and SS traffic through their city. The two bipasses will work for now, but the freeway is still needed.
Comment by Ricky Smith on August 14, 2009 at 10:46am
I find it ironic that this is only proposed in Utah County. Why not make this proposal in Salt Lake County as well? You never hear of dropped routes in Salt Lake County and there are state highways all over the place up there.


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