Regardless of what long-term solution is picked, there are some things that can be done immediately to improve safety on U.S. 89 through Davis County, a group of residents told planners Wednesday.
About 50 Kaysville and Fruit Heights residents turned out for Wednesday's hearing being conducted by a consulting firm doing an environmental impact study on the highway corridor.The study is being done for the Utah Department of Transportation, which is trying to determine what long-term improvements are needed on the four-lane highway.
Wednesday's hearing is one of a series being held this week, culminating Friday night with a hearing in Ogden.
The speed limit on the highway - referred to by locals as the Mountain Road because it skirts the foothills of the Wasatch Range between Farmington and Ogden - should be reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph was the most common suggestion made.
And, the installation of three stoplights this summer will also help, residents told the consultants from Versar A&E Inc.
UDOT figures show the highway doesn't have a higher-than-average accident rate, but the accidents that do occur are more severe than average. UDOT attributes the increased severity to the high rates of speed involved.
And most accidents involve cars turning onto the highway or making left turns off the highway, which is cut by over 125 driveways, streets, and other entrances along the 11.2-mile stretch between Farmington and Ogden.
Residents suggested the addition of acceleration and deceleration lanes to handle traffic coming on and off the highway would help, as would vehicle and pedestrian overpasses.
Major long-term improvements suggested for the highway range from installing more stoplights to turning it into a limited-access freeway, with an interchange and frontage road system.
The cost estimates also vary widely, from $12 million for minor improvements to $80 million to $100 million for a freeway.
Versar spokesman Craig Peterson stressed the hearings are only a preliminary step, required by federal law because federal funds will be used to help pay for whatever improvements are eventually selected.
And no decision has been made yet on what those improvements will be, said Peterson, who as a state senator could also have a voice in state funds committed to the project.
Factors that will be taken into consideration in the environmental impact statement include traffic volume and safety, noise and air pollution, growth and adjacent land use, land acquisition costs, residential and business displacements, wetland mitigation, historic structures or endangered species that may be affected, according to Peterson.
Peterson said the study will take 14 to 15 months and will include additional public hearings. He is also proposing a citizens advisory committee be formed to work with Versar and UDOT in drawing up a final proposal.