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STACKED SENATE PANEL OKS BANGERTER OVERPASS FUNDING

A Senate committee stacked with members whose districts envelop the Bangerter Highway gave unanimous approval Thursday to a bill asking for $3.7 million from the state's general fund for pedestrian overpasses above the road.

But as Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, made clear to residents who want the skywalks, committee approval is no guarantee the bill sponsored by Sen. Millie M. Peterson, D-West Valley City, will get the same support from the full Senate or House.Peterson made the request on behalf of West Valley City officials and residents who are trying to prevent tragedies like the Jan. 7 death of 15-year-old Chad Riding. The boy, whose parents attended Thursday's committee meeting, was trying to cross the Bangerter at 3100 South when he was hit and killed.

Peterson said overpasses should have been included in the initial construction of the Bangerter, which she said was built "poorly and cheaply."

"It's a very deceptive highway," she said. "If you've ever driven it you know they go as high as 70 (mph) on this road. It looks like a freeway, it feels like a freeway, but it is not a freeway."

The bill would fund overpasses or other safety measures, like warning signs, at the 3100 South, 3500 South, 4100 South, 4700 South and 5400 South intersections with the Bangerter. Residents are also trying to raise money.