The Utah Transportation Commission held its monthly meeting in Brigham City last week, providing an opportunity to give an update on road projects under way in Box Elder County this year.
At the meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 18, Nathan Peterson, program manager for the Utah Department of Transportation’s Region One, gave a report on several projects and talked about projects planned over the next few years.
Peterson said the Tremonton Main Street resurfacing project went well. The “mill and fill” project involved taking out two inches of old asphalt, replacing it with new asphalt and sealing it. As the project was happening, UDOT coordinated with Tremonton City on the city’s project to include a right-hand turn lane at 1000 West and Main, as well as some other improvements near the fairgrounds.
“This is an important road for Region One and Box Elder County,” Peterson said, and as such, UDOT is looking at doing a corridor study to determine possible improvements to be done in the future.
“We want to look at what is the future need for this road,” he said. “Should there be on-street parking, bike paths, improved sidewalks?
He said the state agency will work with the city to come up with joint solutions as they come up with future projects.
Peterson also gave an overview of the bridge work UDOT did over the summer on I-84 between Snowville and Rattlesnake Pass. The $2.6 million project taking the asphalt off of the bridge decks, removing deteriorated concrete that had caused potholes to form, cleaning the reinforcing steel underneath, and filling and patching the potholes. It’s routine work that needs to be done about once every 10 years, he said.
UDOT is currently conducting a study at Rattlesnake Pass to determine if climbing lanes should be put in to alleviate congestion when freight trucks are going up the steep inclines on the freeway in both directions. He said trucks slow down to about 40 miles per hour on the inclines, creating potentially unsafe conditions.
The agency also did a rehabilitation project on I-84 at the Bothwell interchange. Due to extensive deterioration, crews did a “hydro-demolition” project on the bridge, using highly pressurized water to remove the concrete. One of the biggest challenges with a hydro-demo, Peterson said, is containing and disposing of all the contamined water.
Peterson also went over some upcoming projects in the area, including an expansion of the I-15 interchange near the Nucor plant in Plymouth. UDOT is still waiting for approval for that project from the Union Pacific railroad, which he said could take another six to eight months.
“With all the growth, particularly industrial growth on the west side of the county, there are a lot of trucks coming in on that clover leaf-type ramp and merging directly on to the main I-15,” he said. “It’s a safety issue.”
Next summer, UDOT will do a minor mill-and-fill project on SR 315, a major road for Perry and Willard linking I-15 to Hwy. 89.
One of the larger projects planned for the area will be a full pavement reconstruction job on Hwy. 89 between Smith & Edwards and Perry. The pavement has deteriorated to the point that it must be replaced, which Peterson said will also provide an opportunity for utility companies to make some improvements, as well as an opportunity to look at widening the road, improving drainage, and expanding sidewalks and curb-and-gutter infrastructure. Peterson said that project is slated to be done in 2023.
He said there will also be some upcoming pavement rehabilitation work at the north end of the county, from Snowville to the Idaho state line. In addition, work will be done on SR 30 and SR 42 in the Park Valley area to improve the ride on the pavement and level out some shoulders to improve safety in the area.
Also upcoming is a project to replace and preserve cracked concrete panels on I-84 between Tremonton and Howell.
Utah Transportation Commission members also went on a tour of Box Elder County last week. Commissioner Lew Cramer said the tour “really opened our eyes, seeing the incredible truck traffic here.
“Having this tour makes clear to all of us about how important it is that we take care of this kind of commerce,” Cramer said. “Our intent is to maybe expand the inland part farther north, so those can be put on our railroads and not have the challenges we’re having in the Salt Lake Valley.”
Box Elder County Commissioner Stan Summers had the opportunity to address the transportation commission during its meeting.
Summers said that while Utah is the crossroads of the west, Box Elder County is the crossroads of Utah, making it an important center of commerce in the state. He said between 17,000 and 20,000 freight trucks travel through the county every day, on top of some 70,000 passenger vehicles.
“We’re at less than 2 percent unemployment, less than the state,” Summers said. “We have 800 jobs on the books unfilled. When it comes to transportation, we need to find a way to bring people up from different communities to fill the jobs that we have.”