People living in the south Utah County cities of Elk Ridge, Salem and Woodland Hills know that getting on and off of I-15 can be a hassle. They have to use either the Payson exit or the Spanish Fork 8000 South exit, both options requiring a significant amount of back-road traveling.

County and city officials are aware of the problem and have been trying to find a solution. They hope they have found one, but it will not come soon.County Engineer Clyde Naylor said a preliminary plan has been designed to build a road that would tie the three cities together and provide better freeway access. The road would provide a more direct route between cities and would take pressure off of Salem Canal Road and Woodland Hills Drive, roads that Naylor said are overused. The new road would also alleviate pressure from several dangerous intersections."We felt like a good loop road would connect the cities and would give them better access to the interstate in a much safer way," Naylor said.

Naylor said traffic counts indicate an arterial loop road is needed. A traffic count conducted in 1987 showed 6,500 cars traveling on U.S. 6 at the 1700 West intersection during a one-day period. The same count showed 8,700 cars on U.S. 6 at the Woodland Hills intersection.

A traffic count conducted this year showed almost 1,500 cars traveling Woodland Hills Drive near the U.S. 6 intersection in one day.

"There have been counts at this intersection of nearly 100 trucks per hour, which creates serious safety concerns," Naylor said.

Naylor said the road would be built in stages and would probably take about 10 years to complete. He said the extension of Woodland Hills Drive onto U.S. 6 would be the first section completed because of safety concerns.

One reason the project may take a long time to complete, is the county's lack of funds and its need for federal assistance on the project. The County Commission approved a resolution Monday supporting a request to the Utah Department of Transportation to make the road a federal-aid secondary route. Naylor said if the request is approved about 91 percent of the road would be paid for with federal funds.

"This is about the only way we can build this road," Naylor said.

Naylor said it is too early at this point to begin negotiating for property acquisition. The area that would be most affected by the road would be the fields northwest of Salem.