The state should get on with widening 9000 South because it will help the city's economy and save valuable commuting time, despite the fact that closing part of the road for four months will hurt some local businesses.
That was the sentiment expressed by many people at a public hearing sponsored by the Utah Department of Transportation Tuesday. About 60 people attended the meeting at the West Jordan Middle School.UDOT plans to widen the road from Redwood Road to the Jordan River to handle existing heavy traffic and prepare for even greater future volumes.
Plans are to widen it to two lanes in each direction and add a 16-foot painted median and 10-foot shoulders, curbs, gutters and sidewalks on each side. The project will cost $4.1 million.
Business owners voiced concern about losing money during construction of the stretch between 700 and 1300 West, when the state builds over the North Jordan canal. That segment would be closed from August to November. The road otherwise would remain open for the rest of the yearlong work, which could begin as soon as late summer.
UDOT officials said leaving the canal part of the road open during construction would cost an extra $2 million.
Residents, for the most part, urged UDOT to get the project done as soon as possible because the road is so often congested and inconvenient. West Jordan city officials strongly favor widening the road to provide a solid link with I-15, which they believe would entice new businesses and more customers.
To cope with the closing, the state would create a three-mile detour that would lead motorists from 9000 South to 700 West to 7800 South to 1300 West and back to 9000 South again.
"We feel closing 9000 South will really hurt us tremendously," said Stephen C. Richards, president of Granite Furniture, estimating the closure might cut the local Granite store's total annual business by one-third to one-half.
Richards said he supports widening the road, but he encouraged UDOT officials to find a way to keep it open.
Similar concerns were expressed by Roger Hamblin, owner of a local Taco Bell; Larry Nelson, who represented a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet; and other business owners.
UDOT officials said they would impose a fairly stiff penalty on the contractor who gets the job if he doesn't complete it in four months. One man suggested providing a financial incentive to get it done quicker.
Residents said they sympathized with business owners but want the project wrapped up fast.
"I'm in favor of closing 9000 South and just getting it over with," said Christopher Stout, 8982 Damascus Way. "Look at it over the long haul: Do it in four months and get all the headaches out of the way."
In the end, Stout said, business owners would benefit from the improved road, as would residents.
Jennifer Andelin, 1332 W. 730 South, was among the speakers who agreed.
She said West Jordan residents might consider "working a little bit harder" to patronize businesses that might be harmed by the temporary closing.