If you don't know the way to West Valley City, don't look to the Utah Department of Transportation for guidance.
Sen. Bill Barton, R-Salt Lake, a West Valley restaurateur, contends that the state's second largest city has been shafted when it comes to freeway directional signs."We're just being overlooked by the state highway department," said Barton, who is making a video tape of the city's two directional highway signs to prove his case to the City Council and state government officials.
Barton points to the only two highway directional signs he has discovered touting West Valley City, one located about 64th South off I-15, and the other located about 72nd West off I-80. Unfortunately, the I-80 signs point to a freeway ramp that isn't even completed yet.
If this line of argument sounds familiar, it's because West Valley types are attempting to make a name for themselves while fighting to make a name for the city. Two years ago, West Valley officials created a stir when they were left off a valley map in U.S. WEST's yellow pages directory. After complaining loudly about the slight, last year the city was listed on the map as a dime-sized West Valley City, with a dollar's-worth portion of Hunter. Obviously, since Hunter became part of the city nine years ago, city limits are wrong on the map. In addition, the city was again left off the valley ZIP code map.
Kim Morris, spokesman for UDOT, said the signing slur isn't intentional. "We try to get about 10 years of life out of those signs," he said, and many of the signs used today predate West Valley's incorporation election held just nine years ago.
The department has set aside $42,000 this year to purchase new signs, $212,00 to rejuvenate old signs and $74,000 to combat vandalism.
"Our safety division realizes there is a problem with this. We know there's a problem out there, not only with West Valley City, but other cities, too," Morris said. "We realize that no matter what we do, we're probably not going to make everybody happy."
Morris said population isn't the only factor in the sign decision.
In its freeway signage, UDOT labels the major control cities that point a traveler in the right direction, and also tries to label the cities adjacent to the highway. But if a city is located one town away from the freeway, they might not get a highway sign mention.