Plans for $725M Highway Moving Forward Pending Federal Approval
SALT LAKE CITY, UT The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) have released the final draft of an environmental impact statement that could pave the way for construction to proceed on a $750 million highway north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
The report pinpoints the route of the 19-mile West Davis Corridor freeway, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, altered to appease conservation groups who argued that previous plans would have destroyed too many Great Salt Lake wetland areas as well as the Army Corp of Engineers.
The review has taken the FHWA and the UDOT seven years to complete. If final federal approval comes this fall construction could start within three years.
Community groups have also pushed back against the project, claiming that it would necessitate the demolition of homes along the route. UDOT officials said they've taken great care in crafting the final plan and have considered 51 different alternatives along the way. However, the agency conceded that the new plan could demolish up to 34 households and four businesses.
The Utah Transportation Commission received an unexpected $1 billion from state legislators, making it possible for the UDOT to fast-track several infrastructure projects. The state legislature will borrow the money over a four-year period, and it will help fund the West Davis Corridor project, as well as at least five projects in the $100 million to $500 million range and three less than $65 million. Officials said many of the projects are aimed at easing congestion in rapidly growing areas of the state.
Other U.S. states have also embarked on massive infrastructure plans, including California, which has passed one of the largest infrastructure initiatives in the country. The state's $52 billion plan will focus on upgrading and repairing the state's roads, bridges and other public transportation assets, which will be paid for by a gas tax hike and other assorted motorist fees.