Residents of Davis and Weber counties who might need some extra motivation to ride the new commuter rail system next year may find it because of traffic delays from the impending widening of I-15 in 2008.
I-15 from Farmington's Glover Lane to the Layton Hills Mall exit— about a seven-mile stretch — will be widened by one lane in each direction next spring, a project that will start about the same time as the commuter rail line begins service from North Ogden to Salt Lake City.
"The project was on our critical needs list," Andy Neff, Utah Department of Transportation spokesman for Region 1, said. Hence the fast-track directive from the Utah Legislature.
"There will be some traffic impacts," Neff said, though UDOT hopes to have three lanes of traffic in each direction usually still open during the busy times of the day once all-out construction begins next spring.
The three lanes will be narrower than normal lanes, though, and there will be reduced speed limits in effect during the construction, which is expected to last through October. "Keeping three lanes open will be a challenge.
"We have a lot of shoulder area to run traffic on," Neff said.
Anyway you look at it, it will take longer to commute from Layton to Farmington on I-15 next spring, summer and fall.
Neff said the freeway expansion is needed to better correlate with the opening of the new Legacy Highway next year between Farmington and Salt Lake City.
One of the biggest impacts to side streets may be to 200 North in Kaysville. That's because the 200 North freeway overpass is the one structure that will require a lot of work to expand. Elsewhere, the extra space is available.
Another key part of the lane-adding project is that UDOT plans to use asphalt to overlay all of the freeway in the seven-mile stretch at the conclusion of the project. Neff said that should make I-15 less noisy.
Asphalt may also solve the concrete-chipping problem that the freeway has had between Kaysville and Layton for more than 10 years. Even though this stretch of I-15 was the last to be built between Salt Lake City and Ogden in 1978 — more than a decade after the other sections of the highway — it has suffered much more deterioration than elsewhere.
As all southbound drivers know, the outside lane between Kaysville and Farmington is currently a bumpy path of potholes and repairs.
Some sound walls also may be added along the freeway during the expansion.
Weber County drivers won't find any relief from I-15 work next year between north Roy and Pleasant View. That freeway-widening project just passed the 50 percent completion point in late August. The work won't be finished until fall 2008.
In the spring of 2009, UDOT plans to widen U-108/Antelope Drive in Syracuse between 1000 and 2000 West.