The commuting public as well as trail enthusiasts can look forward to the official opening of the West Davis Highway this Saturday with fanfare that includes a 2-mile walk-run-bike fun event on the Great Salt Lake Trail and hot chocolate and treats.

Festivities begin at 10 a.m., with the opening of the highway at 11:30 a.m.

There is much to celebrate over a transportation project that has been on the planning board for decades.

Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Mitch Shaw said it took a decade and a lot of haggling over which route should be chosen just to get through the environmental review process. Other considerations included the economical feasibility and convenience.

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The $750 million project was not without its share of protests and controversy as opponents voiced concerns over impacts to air quality, wildlife and waterfowl and the land itself.

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Workers operate heavy equipment in Syracuse as they work on the West Davis Corridor, which connects western Davis County communities with a viable alternative to I-15, on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The transportation agency had to mitigate the acres of wetlands that were removed by the highway’s construction and also agreed the four-lane divided highway would have lighting that would limit disturbance to the birds and other wildlife living along the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

Its route runs between Glovers Lane in Farmington and stops at state Route 193’s extension to 4500 West in West Point. Originally, it was hoped the highway would extend farther north and conclude in Hooper, but that segment has yet to be funded.

Features of the highway include a pedestrian and equestrian bridge, six freeway-style interchanges with on- and off-ramps, and low noise pavement to minimize sounds.

The project was approved and funded as a north-south alternative between western Davis County communities, as well as fast-growing western Weber County, to alleviate pressure on busy Interstate 15.

By 2040, Weber County’s population will grow by 63%, Davis County’s will increase by 33% and a transportation study area that encompasses both counties will expand by 80%.

A few years ago, the Wasatch Front Regional Council issued these dire projections if heavily traveled arterial routes were not improved and the West Davis Highway was idled:

  • Vehicle miles traveled in congestion will jump by 246%.
  • Delays by motorists will increase 148%.
  • Total lane miles traveled in congestion go up by 65%.

Once the highway is completed just a few days from now, the council said it will prevent an anticipated 148% increase in lost productivity (per day) by motorists stuck in traffic and ease a more than 10% reduction in highway speeds caused by traffic jams.

The project, too, was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

A worker drives a loader with a load of dirt in Syracuse as they work on the West Davis Corridor, which connects western Davis County communities with a viable alternative to I-15, on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News