A $3.5 million bypass road east of Delta may be one step closer to completion because the Delta City Council has recommended the project move forward. But its completion isn't foreseen in the near future.

Construction was initially planned for this spring on the bypass between U.S. 50 and U.S. 6 east of Delta. J.R. Chamberlain, Utah Department of Transportation planning engineer, said the state backlogged the project because Delta City officials delayed approving right-of-way acquisition. The right-of-way has since been acquired, but the engineer projected construction won't begin for "four to five years."An initial agreement called for the Intermountain Power Agency, responsible for operation of the Intermountain Power Plant, to pay for a bypass road west of Delta if Millard County would get the right-of-way and UDOT would build a coal truck bypass road east of the city. The 3.5 mile bypass to the east was expected to shorten the coal-hauling trip to the IPP by about eight miles. The plant is 18 miles north of Delta.

Some property would have to be condemned for the bypass road to be built, something the Millard County Commission doesn't want to do unless the project is assured.

IPP officials indicate they are not as supportive of the project as they were when it was first proposed in a 1983 agreement between the county and the IPA. They wrote a letter to the County Commission last year stating they no longer insisted that the bypass be built as part of the agreement.

It appears there wouldn't be as much use of the road by trucks hauling coal from the Southern Utah Fuel Co. mine to the IPP as anticipated. IPA General Manager Reed Searle said the agency has a contract calling for a minimum tonnage of coal and the plant is using only that amount. "We're using trucks much, much less than we were two years ago."

Many Delta residents feel the bypass road would be a safety benefit. It would decrease traffic in the eastern sector of the city and lessen the possibility of an accident near the White Sage Park. Records show visits to the park totaled about 120,000 between April 24 and Sept. 29. Coal-hauling trucks currently travel by the park on U.S. 50.