The Utah Transportation Commission has approved moving ahead with construction of a southbound 4500 South on-ramp to I-215 on Salt Lake's east bench, and construction will begin later this summer.
The resolution to build the $1.5 million on-ramp is a partial response to complaints from area residents, who say lack of access to and from the freeway is creating a safety hazard.Still to be decided is a location for a northbound freeway entrance and exit for 4500 South.
Construction of the approved southbound on-ramp has required the purchase of two homes by the Utah Department of Transportation. The state will help the residents relocate, UDOT spokesman Kim Morris said.
Stratton Drive, which now intersects 4500 South, will be made into a cul-de-sac as part of the project.
With commission approval, UDOT will now work on a final environmental impact statement on the interchange. Construction will begin sometime after July 1.
Residents of the Holladay-Cottonwood area petitioned the commission last year to put freeway access at 4500 South at the top of its agenda. They said lack of an outlet funnels thousands of motorists onto residential streets searching for the 6200 South or 3300 South freeway access.
Five children were hit and one senior citizen was killed in auto-pedestrian accidents during 1990 because of the increased traffic, residents said.
Before completion of the southeast leg of I-215, a southbound on-ramp wasn't necessary because the freeway merged with Wasatch Blvd. The former northbound on-ramp was closed when the freeway was completed in October 1989 because it wasn't designed for high-speed traffic.
UDOT officials said they couldn't build additional access at 4500 South when the rest of the freeway was being completed because the on-ramps were not part of the initial plans. Until recently, UDOT contended, population in the rural-residential area didn't justify a full-blown interchange.Now that it's part of the plan, UDOT must decide where to locate northbound access to I-215.
Planners are looking at an exit and entrance about a quarter mile south of 4500 South to intersect Wasatch Blvd. at Bernada Drive.
Tom Smith, assistant director of UDOT's District II, said locating access just south of 4500 South would preserve the 3900 South on-ramp.
He said the 3900 South on-ramp is close enough to 4500 South that it would have to be closed to accommodate a northbound I-215 on-ramp at 4500 South.