State transportation officials, noting that a recent $19 million bond went a long way toward solving Utah's highway woes, have unveiled a $4.3 billion wish list of road construction projects.

The annual "highway needs inventory" covered the top-priority projects planners expect will need attention in the next five to 20 years. This year's inventory had a considerably higher price tag than past lists, however, because it named projects based on need, without consideration of whether money exists to pay for them."It gives a truer picture of the real needs," said Clint Topham, chief planner for the Utah Department of Transportation.

Members of the Legislature's transportation and public safety interim committee didn't react much to the "honest" list of statewide road work for the future.

Some did ask how much of the multibillion-dollar price tag the federal government would pick up.

Congress is still debating who pays what to maintain the nation's highways. But Topham said Utah could expect to receive from $100 million to $117 million in federal money annually. That money would be contingent upon Utah

coming up with a $33 million match, which Topham said would require raising the state's gasoline tax.

He added that this year's $19 million bonding package - the first time lawmakers have ever issued bonds to pay for road construction - helped UDOT make significant progress toward completing future roadwork. And he recommended the Legislature consider bonding again.

"Bonding (each year in the future) would help us get a lot closer to meeting those needs," Topham said.

UDOT's highway needs inventory consists of projects only under consideration for future construction. In the next three years, planners may place projects listed in the inventory on UDOT's five-year construction schedule for further consideration.

Reconstruction of I-15 and I-80 in Salt Lake County takes up the largest share of the estimated $4 billion needed to pay for future road construction projects.


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Utah's top road projects

A sampling of UDOT's most expensive top-priority projects - those roads needing attention in the next five to eight years - from different areas of the state:- I-84 from west Morgan city limits to Summit County line. Concrete pavement reconstruction for $20 million.

- I-15 from 9000 South to 600 North in Salt Lake County. Rehabilitation, add lanes and rebuild interchanges for $506 million.

- I-15 from 600 North in Salt Lake County to 200 North in Kaysville. Rehabilitation, add lanes and rebuild interchanges for $180 million.

- I-80 from I-15 junction to 1300 East in Salt Lake County. Add lanes and rebuild overpasses for $75 million.

- I-80 from 1300 East to Parleys Canyon. Add lanes and rebuild overpasses for $85 million.

- U-72 from Loa, Wayne County, north to Mill Meadow Reservoir road. Widening and overlay for $10 million.

- U.S. 6 from Price River bridge in Colton to Helper, Carbon County. Reconstruction to four lanes for $85 million.