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UDOT WILL HEAR RECOMMENDATIONS ON JUNE 2 ABOUT U.S. 89 IN DAVIS

The final draft and recommendations on what to do with U.S. Highway 89 through Davis County will be presented to the state's Transportation Commission on June 2.

The commission is the governing body of the Utah Department of Transportation."The study hasn't been formally presented to the commission yet," UDOT district director Clint Topham said Thursday. "We would like some direction from the commission before we move ahead, especially on Highway 89 and the U-193 interchange on U.S. 89."

Topham, speaking at Thursday's Layton council meeting, said the interchange at U.S. 89 and U-193 (Hillfield Road) is a top priority for the district, in addition to being recommended in the U.S. 89 study being prepared by a private consulting firm.

The $90,000 study, paid for mostly by UDOT and partially by the cities adjacent to U.S. 89, recommends the four-lane highway from Farmington into Weber County be turned into a limited-access expressway, with on- and off-ramps, interchanges at major intersections and overpasses.

Cost for the improvements, excluding land acquisition and a system of frontage roads, is about $75 million.

The study was initiated through the Davis Council of Governments, made up of mayors and city administrators from the communities within the county. The request was spurred by a rising number of serious accidents and fatalities along the 12.5-mile stretch of highway from the Farmington junction at I-15 to Harrison Boulevard in Ogden.

The recommendation has drawn fire from many residents and some of the cities that front the highway - cities that would have to pay a portion of the improvement costs and pay for the land acquisition and construction of the frontage roads.

In a resolution passed Wednesday night, the COG endorsed the concept of an expressway with interchanges to meet the long-term traffic load on the highway. The endorsement, however, stops short of backing the design shown in the study, noting it is only an endorsement of the concept.

The resolution solidly endorses short-term, or interim, solutions, including installation of stoplights at critical intersections and reducing the speed limit on U.S. 89 to 45 mph.

It also calls for construction of acceleration and deceleration lanes, more lighting, and installation of median barriers, along with limiting access points to reduce cross traffic.

COG also encourages UDOT to begin buying key parcels of property that will be needed for construction of the proposed interchanges. Many mayors and council members have complained that pressure for residential and commercial development is growing at the proposed interchange points.

Cities are legally powerless to stop development unless they or the state buy the land and set it aside, according to the mayors. If development continues, it could preclude building the interchanges or make them much more expensive.

The COG resolution also encourages UDOT to do an expanded study of transportation needs through Davis County, including along I-15 which runs roughly parallel to and west of U.S. 89.