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Panel OKs funds to counter I-15 effects

A Senate committee passed a bill providing state matching funds to help local governments make road and traffic-control improvements to counter effects of the I-15 reconstruction project.

But the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee reduced the amount of money that would come out of the state's general fund from $30 million to $3 million.Senate Minority Leader Scott Howell was willing to accept that amendment to his SB69, saying local governments need any help they can get.

"If we can help with one dime . . . I think that's a good move," Howell said.

Before the monetary amount was reduced, several senators said they didn't like the idea of tapping into the general fund to make temporary improvements.

"I don't think we have to bail out everybody's problem when over time they'll benefit from" I-15 reconstruction, said Sen. Nathan Tanner, R-Ogden.

Howell said Salt Lake County and the cities along the I-15 corridor could use the money to install traffic signals, re-stripe pedestrian crosswalks, install audible warning systems at crosswalks, erect signs or make other safety improvements to mitigate impacts from I-15 traffic overflow.

Beau Babka, public information officer for South Salt Lake, said his city has seen triple the amount of accidents since I-15 work began and would like help to install signs, lighting, traffic signals and engineering improvements.