MURRAY — Unless it becomes yet another road that ends in Murray, the proposed extension of Cottonwood Street will provide a new option for north-south commuters.
The new road, Murray Public Services Director Doug Hill said, is needed because of the lack of thoroughfares near the city's western boundaries. It would start at Vine Street, angle southwest to 300 West, then follow a widened 300 West to 7200 South.
"If you looked at all of the roads coming out of Salt Lake City, almost all of them end at about 3900 South," Hill said. "All of that traffic, as soon as it hits Murray, uses our residential neighborhoods."
Besides State Street, west-side commuters can use only 300 or 700 West for traveling within the city or to neighboring cities. With the addition of an expanded Fashion Place Mall and an Intermountain Health Care medical campus, the city needs more travel options for people shopping and working in Murray, Hill said.
The first phase of the project will be the construction of Cottonwood Street from its current end at approximately 5000 South to the connection with 300 West, near 5500 South. The first phase, which will require more than half of the expected $30 million cost, will include an overpass across 5300 South.
Already, the city has secured $12.3 million in funding for the overpass and connection to 300 West, although the city must find $3.4 million to cover the remaining costs for the first phase. After that, the city will also have to get additional funding for the remaining $15 million needed to widen 300 West to 7200 South.
So far, the City Council has approved $300,000 to start the planning for the overpass. Construction could start as early as April of next year, Hill said.
While the road has received a majority of the council's support, Councilman John Christensen has been a vocal opponent of the road. Primarily, he is worried that the road will end at 300 West, leaving the city stuck with a "road to nowhere."
Instead of spending millions of dollars on one new road, Christensen would prefer that the city improve all of the existing roads that have started to crumble. While it will help some workers — especially those at the IHC campus — it will not serve the overall population. He also worried that the city has committed to building an overpass before figuring out how to pay for the rest of the construction.
While Councilman John Rush agreed that the road was not an absolute necessity right now, the road will eventually be needed. When that happens, not only would the federal money probably not be available, the difficulties of a major project would be much harder with gridlocked traffic, he said.