Construction will resume in the spring on a controversial road in Sandy dubbed the "Skier Connect" by city officials, the Utah Transportation Commission decided Friday.
The unanimous vote came as a surprise to officials of the Sandy Mall and others who had sued to halt construction of the $1.4 million road shortly after it began last summer.As a result of a lawsuit by the Coalition for a Better Sandy, 3rd District Judge Scott Daniels ordered a public hearing on the road that will connect 90th South and Seventh East with 94th South near 1150 East.
The Transportation Commission decision Friday was based on the testimony gathered at the hearing, which was held in September, as well as detailed alternative proposals presented by the coalition.
The Sandy Mall and other members of the coalition are concerned that the road will cost them business because it routes traffic away from the busy commercial intersection of 94th South and Seventh East.
They had proposed a number of improvements at the intersection to ease congestion as well as a new I-15 off-ramp at 94th South to help Sandy commuters.
Supporters of the road, including Sandy city officials and the Sandy Chamber of Commerce, believe that it is the only way to make east-west travel easier for both residents and tourists.
The name "Skier Connect" came from supporters of the new road who said it would help guide tourists from the freeway to the mountain ski resorts and help promote Sandy as the "Gateway to Four Major Ski Resorts."
Transportation Commission Chairman Sam Taylor said the proposed alternatives were carefully reviewed but were too expensive because of the additional right-of-way that would have to be purchased to accommodate the new freeway exit.
Taylor said the commission was in a "no-win situation" because the community itself is divided over the road and the coalition formed to oppose it is likely to sue.
Coalition spokesman John Milliken, the president of the company that manages the Sandy Mall, had little to say Friday. He said that he and other opponents were not aware the decision had been on the commission's agenda.
Milliken declined to speculate on whether the coalition would go back to court to prevent construction from resuming. But he said Friday's decision is being reviewed by the group's attorney.
A Utah Department of Transportation spokesman said work would begin as soon as weather permits. The original construction contract had been canceled and the project will have to be re-bid.