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UDOT, Riverton to study corridor

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The Utah Department of Transportation will pay half of the $250,000 needed to study future transportation needs along the southern Bangerter Highway corridor.

The goal of the study, to be conducted over the next nine months, is to prevent future conflicts between development and transportation in the Riverton area.

Planners hope to identify potential locations of future Bangerter Highway interchanges and encourage development outside of those rights of way.

The parameters of the Bangerter study are from 11000 South to the I-15 interchange, the southern terminus of the Bangerter, at about 13400 South.

The Utah Transportation Commission voted unanimously Friday to approve the expenditure.

Riverton will contribute the other $125,000, including donations from local business interests.

"We, as a city, are committed to making sure that we meet the kinds of goals that we are setting now," Riverton City Councilman Mark Easton told the commission. "We're committed to making sure that we look to the long-range goals that will help our citizens in transportation and everything else."

But some commissioners questioned whether UDOT should contribute money that could be used to repair roads for a planning project that might otherwise fall under the jurisdiction of the Wasatch Front Regional Council.

Craig Peterson, a former state senator hired by Riverton as a consultant on the project, told commissioners the regional council has offered some of its in-house resources "to help stretch some of those dollars."

"Maybe we need to be more involved" in local planning decisions, Commission Chairman Glen Brown said. "It's a statewide issue in my mind."

Commissioner Stephen Bodily said that by becoming involved now, UDOT could save a lot of money down the road by not having to acquire property or condemn buildings to construct new interchanges.

The former state lawmaker said that's exactly what happened when the Bangerter was built — Salt Lake County had preserved the corridor, but some property owners were permitted to build too close to the future highway.

"It cost us several million dollars to come in and move businesses out to make room for an interchange," Bodily said. "If we'd had more input at the time, we probably would have saved a lot of money, and from that standpoint I think this is a good thing.

"On the other hand, it troubles me a little bit that we are becoming involved in local planning and zoning and probably don't have a veto power when it comes to some of these things that we don't have control over."

Riverton plans further development on both sides of the Bangerter as part of its 5,000-acre "technology crescent," anchored by Intel and possibly a university branch campus with an emphasis on technology.

E-mail: zman@desnews.com