Utah Department of Transportation officials say a four-lane highway between Wellsville and Brigham City is needed, but the proposed widening of U.S. 89/91 could pose environmental problems.
Dave Berg, project manager for Centennial Engineering, said on Thursday that the first phase of a study conducted for UDOT shows that transportation needs on the current highway are not being met."In the future, there will be even more congestion and more delays. By the year 2010, an average of 14,000 vehicles are expected to use that highway daily," Berg said.
Lynn Zollinger, UDOT engineer, said the environmental effects of the proposed project have yet to be assessed in detail, but that a number of concerns have already been raised, including disturbing a brown trout fishery in Box Elder Creek, maintaining scenic quality and affecting area farming operations.
In addition to widening the existing highway, UDOT is looking at rerouting the highway through the old Sardine Canyon Road, or widening U-30 west of Logan as an alternative route.
Berg said the existing highway in Box Elder Canyon below Mantua presents the most complex set of problems.
"Protecting the stream, providing room for migrating deer and still maintaining the desired 78-foot width needed to meet highway design standards for four lanes presents a difficult challenge because of the narrowness of the canyon," he said.
Several people attending Thursday's public meeting objected to the rerouting plan, saying more migrating deer are in the Sardine Canyon area, and farmers currently use the road to move machinery to fields.