which allows north-south travelers to bypass downtown Salt Lake City - was opened with pomp and ceremony on Friday.
Gov. Norm Bangerter, Salt Lake City Mayor Palmer DePaulis, West Valley City Mayor Brent Anderson and Utah Transportation Commission Chairman Sam Taylor each pulled ribbons on a box that released balloons aloft to mark opening of the new section of freeway between 21st South and I-80 at about North Temple.Taylor said, "This should bring a major reduction in the amount of through-traffic using I-15. We should also see a real impact on the amount of traffic on Redwood Road."
Taylor said 105,000 cars per day are expected to use the section of freeway by 2005. During the next 35 years, more than 1 billion vehicles are expected to travel the section.
The new 2.3-mile segment cost a total of $41.6 million. Original grading on the section began in 1979. Taylor said the state has spent $174 million on all parts of I-215 so far.
The only other major section needed to complete the beltway in Salt Lake County is the $40-million-plus southeast section of the road, which curves from 20th East to 45th South in the Cottonwood area.
Taylor said construction of that portion is scheduled to be completed in 1990, "but the contractor told us to not be surprised if he has it finished by next fall."
Bangerter told about 100 people gathered at ceremonies near the 21st South and I-215 interchange that the west side of the
alley has been waiting for the new freeway for years, and predicted the new road will help attract industry there.
Anderson said he is especially happy to see the new highway finished because it will allow him to travel from his home in West Valley City to his job near the airport in just a few minutes. He also joked, "A lot of people in Salt Lake City have been waiting for this to so they can get from Salt Lake City to West Valley City to do their shopping."
DePaulis said improving the interstate system will bring economic benefits statewide, encouraging more industry to come to locate here because transporting their goods will be easy.
While the main section of the freeway is open, some of the interchanges in that stretch are not. Several businesses are especially upset that the California Avenue interchange is not yet open.
While that interchange is complete, Salt Lake City has not yet extended California Avenue to it. Rep. David Ostler, R-Salt Lake, said 60 feet of pavement would allow temporary use of the interchange while the road is completed, but complained that the city still plans to have the road closed another year.
But DePaulis told the crowd that the city will do everything it can to open California Avenue as soon as possible.
UDOT spokesman Kim Morris said even though all interchanges won't be open immediately, UDOT saw no reason to keep the main road closed.