Sometime in the future, but not too soon, the city of Orem may have to widen 800 North.
Mayor S. Blaine Willes said he wants to emphasize that nothing concrete has been decided yet.The city is trying to prepare for any concerns that could arise, and the traffic on 800 North is one of those concerns, he said. According to projections, it will continue to increase.
"That street is not conducive to carrying a lot of additional traffic," Willes said. "So I have asked the Utah Department of Transportation to look into alternatives."
Dan Nelson, director of the district UDOT office in Orem, said the expansion is not inevitable, "but could happen a few years down the road."
"There are other routes that could be considered," he said. And because there will be houses and other buildings that will be affected, UDOT must look into other possibilities.
But Willes said that right now it is difficult to find any other routes.
According to Nelson, other accesses such as 1200 North or other streets may be alternative solutions.
If the Provo/Orem area continues to grow the way it has been, a solution to the traffic problem must be found, Nelson said.
Willes said excess truck traffic is coming through Provo Canyon because it is a shorter route than I-80 through Salt Lake City and it is not as steep.
This is causing a safety and pollution problem in the area, he said, adding that it does not look like it will get any better.
According to Nelson, truck traffic is not the only concern.
"Orem has plans to develop the area, and the increased traffic will demand that something be done," he said. Some companies that are based in north Orem have already caused an increase in traffic.
The city is planning to limit the growth of residential housing and businesses along 800 North to prepare for possible changes.
"We (the city of Orem) don't want to build new things and then have to move them," Willes said.
Nelson said the change would require widening the pavement an additional 15 to 20 feet to add two lanes to the road.
"If UDOT ultimately plans to widen the road, we need to know what that plan is so we can work with it," Willes said.
"Right now there are 8,000 commuter cars daily that travel the road," Nelson said. That is high volume for a street such as 800 North.