With construction costs rising an estimated $400,000 each day as a result of inflation, state transportation officials are asking the Legislature to decide this session when it wants to fund reconstruction of I-15 in Utah County.
At the earliest, work could begin on the road in 2009 and be finished by 2016, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.
But the agency said it needs an answer this session if the state wants work to begin on the road that early.
"We need a go-ahead this session if we're going to begin building in two years," said UDOT director John Njord, during a transportation budget meeting Monday.
UDOT has planned for I-15 to be reconstructed a total of 43 miles from the southern portion of Salt Lake County to Payson. It says it can reconstruct the road in segments, as directed by the Legislature.
If completely rebuilt with the help of some bonding, it would cost the state $6.9 billion, according to UDOT. Without bonding, reconstruction is estimated to cost $7.6 billion, but the road wouldn't be finished until 2027, UDOT said.
Legislators say they are aware of the issue of timing reconstruction of I-15. The problem is, legislators say, they also have a list of other big-ticket road projects that need funding, including the Mountain View Corridor, North Legacy, and the Southern Corridor in St. George.
If I-15 is funded completely, those roads may not get enough money to be built.
"We have to do those projects, but we're concerned about the funding," said Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, co-chairman of the Legislature's Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.
This week, members of Harper's committee plan to work on different proposals for funding transportation. Harper said he didn't believe money would be given specifically to I-15 this year, but, rather, legislators would study the issue and perhaps come back next year with more long-term funding solutions.
Things could change, however, given the feelings of House and Senate leadership. The Utah Department of Transportation has already given presentations to leadership about the issue, and House leaders have indicated a desire to help fund roads.The transportation budget committee is scheduled to meet at least two more times this week to discuss UDOT funding issues. To see committee agendas, log on to www.le.state.ut.us.
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