Little opposition to a proposed realignment of the frontage road on the west side of I-15 at 53rd South was expressed at a public hearing this week.
Several in attendance, however, said they are not convinced the safety factors that prompted the proposal are valid.The proposed plan would eliminate the existing approaches from the road (Green Street) to 53rd South on the west side of I-15. Instead, the street would jog to the west at about 54th South and at 52nd South to meet College Drive (425 West).
Utah Department of Transportation officials said the realignment would eliminate much of the congestion that occurs at the Green Street intersection due to close proximity to I-15 access ramps.
Several of the 20 or so people attending the hearing said they do not believe the safety risks are great enough to justify the changes. They said that they have seen few accidents and that, generally, motorists are very conscientious about the conditions. Others objected to the impact the changes would have on the park-and-ride lot, saying the proposal would likely discourage use of the lot.
Officials estimate the project will cost about $480,000 and will take about eight months to complete. Wayne S. Winters, vice chairman of the Utah Transportation Commission, said money is available for the project and the state could move on construction as soon as design work is completed.
The state does not anticipate having to condemn property for the project. On the south side, a developer interested in constructing several office buildings is providing much of the land needed for the new access. That project would also provide covered parking to replace an existing Utah Transit Authority park-and-ride lot at the site. The state would retain ownership of the present Green Street right of way and park-and-ride lot. The land would then be leased to the developer to ensure that the park-and-ride lot is protected.
On the north side, the state is negotiating with two property owners. The state is offering to trade the property that will become available when Green Street is abandoned for part of the needed land for the new street. The remainder of the property is contained within an access right of way the state required when the AT&T facility was constructed just north of the Reston Hotel on College Drive.
A representative from the Pinehill Business Park, which fronts on Green Street north of 53rd South, expressed concern that the change will make access to that development more difficult and asked that the state consider providing signs that will make motorists aware of the change. He said he agrees with the change for safety reasons but wants to make the public aware of the new access route.
Scott Quist, representing the owners of the property housing the Farm Bureau office complex and the AT&T complex, said his company had not received adequate notice of the hearing and wanted more time to study the proposal and make recommendations.
Winters said he expects the transportation commission to make a decision on the project within the next 60 days. He said once the decision is made, design work will be completed and the project put out for bid.