Two modifications to a proposal to turn U.S. 89 into an expressway over the next decade were advocated last week by cities served by the highway.
Layton Mayor Richard McKenzie presented a position paper proposing the highway's speed limit be reduced and traffic signals and barriers be installed as an interim measure, all designed to make the highway less attractive to commuters.And the Farmington City Council, which already opposes part of the expressway concept, endorsed an interchange at the Cherry Hills junction designed by its city planner.
The Layton City Council appeared supportive of McKenzie's proposal to lower the speed limit on Highway 89 stretches through residential sections from 55 to 45 mph.
McKenzie drew up his position paper after a public hearing two weeks ago on the expressway proposal, estimated to cost up to $80 million and take up to 10 years to complete.
The mayor said he believes the six-month study, funded jointly by the Utah Department of Transportation and the cities adjacent to the 10-mile stretch of the highway, yielded some valid results.
But he also criticized some of the study's conclusions, including the one that the highway should be redesigned to handle larger volumes of traffic and that reducing its speed limit would not be effective.
McKenzie offered a new premise: making the highway less attractive to drivers using it as a commuter road between Salt Lake and Weber counties. The highway should serve as an arterial to the residential neighborhoods that are growing up along its edge, the mayor said.
In addition to the 45-mph speed limit recommendation, McKenzie advocates immediate installation of vertical concrete barriers, additional travel lanes wherever possible, closure of selected access points, improved acceleration and deceleration lanes, and installation of traffic signals at two or three major crossings.
McKenzie also strongly advocates construction of an interchange where U-193, which runs along Hill Air Force Base's southern boundary, intersects the highway.
Many of the mayor's recommendations line up with the expressway plan.
McKenzie said he sees his recommendations - including the lower speed limit and signalized intersections - as interim measures that can immediately improve safety until the $80 million expressway is funded.
McKenzie said also that UDOT should devise a long-term master plan for the area that doesn't make U.S. 89 the solution to all its traffic needs.
"I think UDOT is trying to solve their 25-year problem on the back of U.S. 89," he said.
Even if the speed limit is reduced near residential areas, McKenzie said, sections of the highway through the Weber Canyon area and into South Ogden could maintain the present speed of 55 mph.
"But in Layton, we're a residential area. We're not an expressway," he said.
Farmington planner Bob Scott's proposed interchange includes an overpass of U.S. 89 at the Farmington-Kaysville junction that would allow a free flow of traffic from Farmington's Main Street north into Kaysville and divert southbound traffic onto a frontage road parallel to the highway or north into Fruit Heights, also on a frontage road.
The plan leaves the existing commercial structures at the interchange intact but would do away with the Utah State University botanical gardens east of the highway.
The council voted to endorse the concept and forward it to UDOT, and the proposal was also approved by the planning commission, with a dissenting vote from commission chairman Diana Rigby.