Construction of an interchange at I-15 and 11400 South, stopped three years ago by controversy and a judge one day after work began, could get back under way as early as next spring following a second federal go-ahead granted Tuesday.
The 11400 South interchange, which state highway and local government officials are excited to get going on but residents are still dreading, calls for the destruction of 26 homes and involves the rights-of-way on at least 158 other commercial and residential properties.
Residents say that UDOT misrepresented both the extent and the impact to neighborhoods during the environmental impact reviews of the project. In addition to the interchange, plans call for the widening of several existing roads, including 10600 South.
UDOT officials say residents have, and will continue, to be involved in discussions about the project.
"We have both formally and informally responded to their comments," said Joe Kammerer, UDOT project manager. "We've had dialogue and they've been involved for the past three years."
What the federal approval of the project does, continued Kammerer, is validate an environmental study UDOT did for the project — something that justifies the need for demolition of homes and the acquisition of property.
UDOT began the environmental study of the project three years ago after a residents group filed a lawsuit against UDOT claiming the agency failed to adequately evaluate the impact of the interchange. UDOT had federal approval, but construction was stopped by U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell. The suit was eventually dismissed because UDOT officials decided a restudy was merited because of "massive" population growth in the south end of the Salt Lake Valley.
The go-ahead does not preclude further court action on the interchange, which alone costs $28 million and is being paid for from the state's Centennial Highway Fund.
The additional parts of the project are not funded now and are part of the overall statewide transportation needs, said UDOT spokesman Nile Easton. "We will continue to work with the Legislature to find funding for those unmet needs."
The sooner the better, say government leaders in Draper, Sandy , and South Jordan, who see the interchange as a crucial point for transportation in the area. the area's transportation crux.
"The project has been delayed, so we're thrilled to finally get it to happen," Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said. "We think it will be a huge increase in traffic flows in that end of our city."
Said Draper city City spokeswoman, Maridene Hancock: "The new exit at 11400 South will take pressure off the 10600 South and 12400 South interchanges and will help service residents in the 11400 South area. Draper city supports this project and prefers the whole project be completed at one time."
The 11400 South interchange project also involves several surrounding roads:
Widening of 11400 South to four lanes; addition of a bridge across the Jordan River.
Widening of 10600 South to six lanes from River Front Parkway to Jordan Gateway.
Improvements to 11400 South at Bangerter Highway.
Addition of a triple left-turn lane from southbound I-15 to eastbound 10600 South.
Improvements to Jordan Gateway at 10600 South, 11400 South and at 12300 South.
Contributing: Kersten Swinyard