Sandy residents howled last year when Salt Lake County commissioners decided to postpone the widening of 13th East while giving more money to deputy sheriffs and firefighters.

Many area residents sit daily in stalled traffic along the route as they attempt to merge from four lanes in Sandy to two lanes in the unincorporated county.But Sandy Mayor Steve Newton is all smiles now that county crews have scooped the first shovelfuls of dirt to start the long-awaited project. Never mind that these things seem easier to accomplish in an election year.

"I have been thinking about putting a sign on 13th East thanking the county for building this road," said Newton, who has spent much of the past year answering questions about the road. "I'm delighted they are coming through and getting it done."

Newton and County Commissioner Dave Watson are expected to attend a ceremony Wednesday afternoon marking the start of the project, which will widen the road between 72nd South and 78th South.

Sandy spent more than $1 million in recent years to widen its portion of the road, with assurances from the county that it would widen its portion. But county commissioners decided in January 1987 to take $800,000 from money earmarked for the project and give it to deputies and firefighters.

"The delay has just been minor," Newton said. "All in all, I don't think the city of Sandy has been hurt much."

Motorists now must find other ways of getting to work while construction crews are busy. The $1.7 million proj-ect is expected to last until November, county officials said.