The Davis County Planning Commission on Thursday endorsed a proposal to turn U.S. 89 through the county into a limited access expressway.
The recommendation is the result of a six-month study ordered by the cities adjacent to the highway, through the Davis County Council of Governments and the Utah Department of Transportation.The proposal, which could cost more than $80 million, has not received universal endorsement from the cities.
Layton has urged that the highway's speed limit should be reduced and commuter traffic should be discouraged on the highway - making it a residential service road rather than a major highway.
Farmington has cautiously endorsed the overall proposal, but with some specific recommendations for the intersections at Shepard Lane and Cherry Hill.
Planning Commission Chairman DeeEll Fifield, a Fruit Heights resident, raised some questions of his own Thursday night and did not vote for the plan.
The study's recommendation to build interchanges, frontage roads, and overpasses along the highway to accommodate increased traffic and encourage safety does not take into account the unused capacity of I-15, which runs parallel to the highway, Fifield said.
He also said it was shortsighted on UDOT's part years ago not to build an interchange where I-15 and I-84 meet, because it encourages heavy truck traffic on U.S. 89.
Fifield said he has serious reservations about the study's assumption that cities adjacent to U.S. 89 will have to come up with millions of dollars to buy land to build the frontage roads recommended in the proposal.
Fruit Heights has far too few residents to be able to fund millions of dollars in land purchases and improvements, he said.
Wasatch Front Regional Council traffic planner Doug Hattery said in similar instances UDOT has funded the land purchase and frontage road construction, then turned the frontage roads over to cities for maintenance.
Commission member Stan Postma, although voting to endorse the recommendation, said he disagrees with the study's assumption that nothing can be done to reduce the volume of traffic the highway handles.
Measures like stoplights and a reduced speed limit would encourage commuter traffic to use I-15, Postma said.
But fellow commissioner Mike Wardle challenged that, saying traffic studies show most of the vehicles using the highway belong to local residents.