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UDOT backs off on median plan

Instead, street will also have middle turn lanes

DRAPER — The Utah Department of Transportation, faced with complaints from business owners and residents, has backed off its plan to install a raised median throughout the 12300/12600 South corridor.

Instead, UDOT will erect medians along 60 percent of the reconstruction corridor, which stretches from 700 East in Draper to the Bangerter Highway in Riverton. Along the other 40 percent of the route, a middle turn lane will replace the raised islands.

The road will be widened to two lanes in each direction by 2004. UDOT engineers fear a higher-capacity roadway combined with continued growth in the area will lead to more traffic accidents. A raised median that prevents midblock turns would increase safety, they say.>

Deseret News graphic

Median island locations

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But business owners in particular disputed that assertion. And they were concerned reduced access along the corridor would cause many customers to take their business elsewhere.

"I've been here almost eight years now and I've never had an accident in the front of my place making a left-hand turn or a right-hand turn," said Neil Summerhays, owner of Neil's Charcoal Broiler, 112 E. 12300 South.

But UDOT would not bend on its plan to place a median across from the restaurant. A median will be installed between 300 East and Factory Outlet Drive with only one mid-block break. Summerhays said he is now considering moving his business.

Workers from offices across the freeway will have to make U-turnsto reach the restaurant, and that could add as much as 10 minutes to their travel time, Summerhays said. He fears they will simply stay away.

"They only get a half-hour for lunch," he said. "The customers are not liking the idea of it (the median) coming, either."

Farther east, however, business owners are extremely relieved — and pleased with the process UDOT used to receive and consider public input. The department decided it will not build a median along 12300 South between 350 and 700 East.

"I know it sounds crazy, but I'd give them an A-plus for their efforts," Bill Shober, owner of Minute Wash at 639 E. 12300 South, said of UDOT. "We really thought UDOT was going to be a bear to fight with but . . . I'm very happy with how things turned out. They listened.

"Now we just need to get through this construction part and we'll survive."

LaMont Smith, a Draper City Council member and owner of Richins Car Service at 568 S. 12300 South, said the business owners along that segment of 12300 South banded together and made it clear to UDOT they did not want the median.

"Originally, they were kind of, in my opinion, a little bit rigid in terms of flexibility on the thing, but we were able to convince them that this was in the best interests, so we were able to balance it all out," he said. "If it's not convenient, people are not going to use it, that's my philosophy. They'll find somewhere else that's more convenient to go."

UDOT agreed to several other large stretches without the center median but retained the median in plans for the most congested areas — like between 3600 West and the Bangerter Highway, surrounding the 2700 West interchange and on either side of Redwood Road.

"We weren't going to sacrifice safety at any point when it came to removing any of the medians," said UDOT spokesman Tom Hudachko.

"We removed 40 percent of the medians, but 100 percent of them weren't necessarily on the table as far as removing them. There are intersections on the corridor where it's vital to safety and efficiency that we keep the medians."

Reconstruction on the segment of 12300/12600 South from 700 East to 1300 West will begin in mid-March and continue through the rest of the construction season. Next year, the segment between 1300 West and the Bangerter Highway will be rebuilt.

One lane of travel in each direction will remain open at all times, with the exception of several nighttime closures to allow for the demolition of the existing I-15 bridges. A major reconstruction of the interchange is already under way.


E-MAIL: zman@desnews.com