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Utah Legislature: No dollars for new state road projects

Published: Friday, March 12 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

A woman waits for a bus on State Street in Midvale. There is no drainage, so the road becomes a lake after each storm. SB215 calls for improvements on State Street from 7200 to 9000 South, paid for in part from savings on other projects. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) A woman waits for a bus on State Street in Midvale. There is no drainage, so the road becomes a lake after each storm. SB215 calls for improvements on State Street from 7200 to 9000 South, paid for in part from savings on other projects. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In a time of a $700 million revenue shortfall, the Utah Legislature didn't approve many road projects.

Last year, the Legislature raised motor vehicle fees to generate about $52 million more a year and authorized the state to bond for billions for I-15 reconstruction in Utah County, the Mountain View Corridor and the Southern Parkway in St. George.

This year, there were no tax or fee increases for those purposes. And no new roads with state money. In fact, HB3 cuts $115.6 million from the Utah Department of Transportation to pay for construction of a handful of state buildings.

The only projects that were approved were ones that are funded mostly through a Salt Lake County bond to ensure no more of the state's bonding capacity is used, which can affect its credit rating.

SB215 , sponsored by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Salt Lake, and Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, allows the county to bond for $77 million. A portion of the county's sales tax and registration fees will repay the bond. The projects are:

 Adding another lane along 5400 South between 4000 West and Bangerter Highway.

 Improving the Bangerter Highway and state Route 201 interchange.

 Improving intersections at 12300 South and State, and 9400 South and Wasatch Boulevard.

 Creating along Bangerter Highway and 3100 South, 6200 South and 7000 South so-called "continuous flow" intersections that move left-hand turn lanes away from the main intersection.

 Adding two lanes, sidewalks and safety features on 5400 South between 4000 West and about 4800 West.

 Improving the 9400 South and Wasatch Boulevard intersection.

 Adding an exit at 3800 South for drivers on southbound I-215 who want to exit in West Valley City. It will accommodate traffic that could get congested with light rail and bus and rapid transit around Valley Fair Mall.

The bill also calls for improvements on U.S. 89 in Midvale, the section of State from 7200 South to 9000 South, which will be paid for in part by savings from other UDOT projects.

In Layton, a $5 million onramp improvement for U.S. 89 and state Route 193 has been delayed for state Route 97, according to an amendment in HB3, which will move traffic to the future Falcon Hill development of about 500 acres of federal land that will be transferred to private ownership.

"If that happens, you can create tens of thousands of jobs," said Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, who was in favor of the amendment to SB3. "When you create tens of thousands of jobs, you create tax revenue for the state. When you have tens of thousands of jobs, all of sudden you have millions of dollars, so economic development can continue."

e-mail: lhancock@desnews.com

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