SOUTH JORDAN — When busy mom Laurel Price needs to replenish school supplies or buy clothing for any of her four children, she hops in her car and leaves her Herriman community in the rearview mirror because of the lack of hometown shopping options.
She hopes Saturday's opening of another seven-mile segment of the Mountain View Corridor will eventually change that.
"We don't have much shopping," Price said. "A key component of that is to have a good transportation corridor, a large transportation corridor. With this, we will become a viable option for corporations and businesses who have never looked out here. I am excited about that as well."
The largest section of the Mountain View Corridor opens Saturday — two months early — and was celebrated Friday with a sneak peek at the new section of roadway from Porter Rockwell Boulevard at 16000 South to the Old Bingham Highway. The stretch of road also includes bike lanes and trails.
The latest completion enhances two miles of roadway finished in June from 14400 South to 12600 South.
Price says she is also excited that the long-planned highway will give her a straight shot in and out of Herriman, a rural community that has experienced rapid-fire growth over the past decade.
"The biggest growing pain we have had out here is transportation," she said.
Price said she can't remember a time when the intersection at 13400 South and 5600 West hasn't been dotted with orange cones because of one construction project or another.
When fully completed, the Mountain View Corridor will link the west side of Salt Lake County from I-80 to I-15 in Lehi in Utah County — two of the Wasatch Front's fastest growing areas.
In 2006, Herriman was Utah's fastest growing city, according to census records. When the city in the far southwestern portion of Salt Lake County incorporated in 1999, it had fewer than 1,000 residents. Since 2000, it has experienced 450 percent growth in its population, which now numbers more than 21,000.
Utah County, served at the southern end of the corridor, also has experienced explosive growth, ranking No. 8 in the nation for employment growth from 2000 to 2010 with a 47.1 percent increase.
Doug Hatterty, deputy director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, remembers a time when the corridor was nothing but a concept, and the subject of an intense corridor planning study — some 20 years ago.
Ten years later, possible routes began to surface and cities began to plan for buying up rights of way for an eventual freeway.
"Back then, we were studying at the same time options for I-15 (and) light rail, and we were looking at our plans, where the growth was, and we knew we couldn't just focus entirely on I-15," Hatterty said.
The council, which is tasked with developing long-range transportation plans that serve regional needs, knew that one day the Mountain View Corridor would provide a critical path to move people around the valley.
"We knew growth was going to be coming and saw a need for this freeway out on the west side," he said.
South Jordan assistant city manager Gary Whatcott said the corridor provides him a direct, uncomplicated path to visit three of his grandchildren in Herriman — a personal benefit — and he also sees great promises for economic development and planning in the future.
"It improves overall transportation on the west side from a regional perspective," he said. "And your economic development is just stifled if you don't have good transportation corridors."
Whatcott said the corridor represents the ideal example of road development because, at least in the southernmost portion of Salt Lake County, the freeway was planned with room for development to sprout up around it.
"You don't typically get these kind of opportunities — having a transportation corridor in before you get all the growth," he said.