Few freeways have garbage trucks and mail carriers stopping and starting amid 55 mph traffic all day, but residents along U.S. 89 between Farmington and Ogden say that's what they have to endure.
A group known as Citizens' Co-op for a Safer 89 in '89 met with Gov. Norm Bangerter and state officials Thursday to lobby for a plan to turn the highway into an expressway with six interchanges.Along with commissioners from Weber and Davis counties, the residents say they are tired of losing friends to accidents along the road.
"It would have been easy for us to come with emotional arguments," said Diane Maynes, spokeswoman for the group.
Instead, they voiced support for recommendations contained in a $90,000 study commissioned by the state, Weber and Davis counties. The study, done by Parsons, Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas, Inc., said an expressway would put an end to the high numbers of fatal traffic accidents along the road. Fatal accidents are four times as common along the road than on other similar highways.
Maynes said 125 roads and driveways intersect with the highway. At night, drivers have difficulty seeing because of a lack of street lights.
Bangerter, whose top priority is to build an expressway along the west side of the Salt Lake Valley, agreed a solution needs to be found for problems along U.S. 89. Although noncommittal, he seemed optimistic a solution could be found quickly.
The expressway would cost an estimated $69 million, officials said.
"I've stated that one of the priorities we have for the next four years is in highway construction," he said.
Bangerter also said he wants to build a highway along the western half of the valley between Salt Lake and Ogden.
Eugene Findlay, director of the Department of Transportation, said the highway is not on the state's priority list. He said the department needs to study the highway's impact on the environment.
"We need to make a judgment as to where this fits into our priorities," he said.
Not all residents of the area support the expressway plan. Opponents believe the state should lower speed limits and install traffic lights.
But supporters say traffic lights would merely create traffic jams between Salt Lake City and Ogden.