SARATOGA SPRINGS — Bumper-to-bumper traffic is the norm at times on Redwood Road, and weary commuters are anxious to have some relief.
Utah's Department of Transportation aims to solve some of the traffic woes with a proposal to widen Redwood Road to five lanes, consisting of two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane. The widening will begin at approximately Pony Express Lane, south of Lehi's Main Street, and continue north to Bangerter Highway.
Geoffrey Dupaix, a UDOT public-involvement coordinator, explained some of the plans for the affected area at a public hearing Thursday in Saratoga Springs.
Public input was invited from commuters and residents who use or live near state Route 68, also known as Redwood Road.
When the widening takes place, noise walls will be erected in several areas. But the residents of neighborhoods that qualify to have the walls must have to want the walls, Dupaix said.
John Higgins, project manager for this project, explained the requirements for having a noise wall put in place.
"Seventy-five percent of residents living adjacent to the road have to say 'yes' to a noise wall," Higgins said. "And if the noise affects the second row of homes, 67 percent of all those closest to the wall are balloted to see if they want the wall."
There also has to be at least 65 decibels of noise for a noise wall to be erected. A lawn mower runs about 70 decibels, light traffic around 50.
Noise was just one concern addressed at the hearing.
"Some areas won't have parking strips and sidewalks yet," Dupaix said. "But as developers develop those areas, they will put in sidewalks."
From 10400 North to Bangerter Highway, parking strips and sidewalks will be installed. A major concern for that particular area is wildlife.
"There will be three wildlife crossings with some type of fencing that will channel wildlife to cross at those locations," Dupaix said. "There will be tunnels under the roadway between 15 and 16.5 feet high. Most people won't even notice them."
The reason for the concern with wildlife is that a lot of deer cross in that area, and there have been several vehicle crashes with wildlife involved.
"We're trying to minimize strikes between vehicles and wildlife," Dupaix said.
In addition to the wildlife crossings, the widened roadway will include bike lanes. Dupaix said several citizens requested bike lanes at previous meetings.
Once public input has been given, UDOT will send the completed documents to the Federal Highway Administration, hopefully by July. The federal agency will review it, and if the analysis is approved, UDOT will move ahead with the final design. If additional work is needed, there will be a more analysis requested to resolve issues, which could take more time.
"The best-case scenario for this project to begin is about this time next year," Dupaix said. "So people will have to live with it the way it is for another year."