Oct 2, 2023 - Transit

UDOT's preferred I-15 expansion plan includes relocating homes, businesses

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Utah Department of Transportation released its preferred plan Friday to widen a roughly 17-mile stretch of I-15 from Salt Lake City to Farmington.

State of play: UDOT's recommendation calls for five general purpose lanes and one express lane in each direction from 400 S. in Salt Lake City to Shepard Lane in Farmington.

Why it matters: If UDOT approves the plan, it's expected to displace three to five homes and 13 to 16 commercial buildings — some of which include multiple businesses — along the I-15 corridor, according to the study.

  • The project also has the potential to displace another 35 to 36 homes and 10 to 13 commercial buildings.
  • Potential relocations are dependent on whether property owners agree to leave. Moving would not be required "under any scenario," UDOT spokesperson John Gleason told Axios.
  • No homes in Salt Lake City are planned to be demolished.

The big picture: State transportation officials say widening the freeway is necessary to replace aging infrastructure, cut travel time and accommodate Utah's growing population, which is estimated to almost double by 2060.

Yes, but: The project has drawn controversy, prompting criticism from many west siders and city leaders due to its potential to displace homes and local businesses and impact air quality.

  • At a Westside Coalition forum last week, all three mayoral candidates — former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, Mayor Erin Mendenhall and community activist Michael Valentine — spoke out against the expansion.

What they're saying: "If we do nothing," UDOT I-15 EIS study manager Tiffany Pocock told reporters Friday, travel time along that portion of I-15 would increase from 20 minutes to about an hour by 2050.

The other side: In a written statement, Mayor Erin Mendenhall told Axios the city "fundamentally" disagrees on adding lanes and called for more public transit investment.

  • Mendenhall also called for greater public transit investments.

By the numbers: The project's estimated price tag is $3.7 billion, more than the $1.7 billion the state Legislature evaluated for the project in 2019.

What's next: UDOT is taking public comment for the I-15 project from now through Nov. 13.

  • The transportation agency's final decision is expected to come spring 2024, Pocock said.
  • If UDOT moves forward with the expansion, construction would begin early 2026.
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