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City officials are rethinking a plan to connect I-15 and U.S. 89 via 900 South that would include a bridge over the railroad yards.

The new mile-long road and bridge will likely be moved about nine blocks south to 1860 South. The Utah Department of Transportation has proposed the 1993 Legislature put up $7.125 million for the project. Provo will have to kick in another $2 million to complete it.At least two obstacles and the possibility of a freeway interchange prompted engineers to look south.

When Provo City sold Novell 16 acres of the East Bay Golf Course in October 1991, it agreed to ask UDOT to build an off-ramp directly adjacent to the software company. Traffic would empty onto 1860 South. Novell bought the land to expand its corporate headquarters and hire 3,300 new workers.

The city, UDOT and Novell divided up the $75,000 cost to hire a private engineering firm to design the interchange. The project, estimated to cost at least $20 million, would be done in three phases. It is not on UDOT's list of proposed projects for the 1993 Legislature.

City engineer Nick Jones said creating an access to East Bay from U.S. 89 would alleviate downtown traffic congestion and carbon monoxide emissions that go along with it. East-side Provo residents working in the business center could travel the highway to work rather than University Avenue.

It would also be easier and less expensive to bridge the railroad yards at 1860 South rather than 900 South, Jones said. The railroads won't allow columns to be constructed in the yards to hold up the 1,100-foot span. Engineers prefer to build the bridge in segments rather than have it a single, clear-standing structure. Moving south would allow them to do that.

Constructing the road at 1860 South would also keep the city from having to remove some homes near the Provo City Cemetery, Jones said.

The city has hired a private consultant to design several road configurations. An environmental assessment is also required. Public hearings on the project aren't likely to be held until next fall. Construction isn't due to start until 1995.

In an unrelated project, UDOT has also asked the Legislature for $1.25 million to replace the asphalt on University Avenue from I-15 to 900 South with concrete.