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Deseret Morning News graphic

State officials on Wednesday celebrated the end of a two-year reconstruction project on U-201, or the "21st South highway."

The road, which provides east-west access for residents in western Salt Lake and Tooele counties, was widened from four to six lanes between the Jordan River and about 3200 West. A new ramp was built to connect the road to northbound I-15, and the interchange at Redwood Road was reconstructed.

Cost of the construction: $64 million.

West Valley Mayor Dennis Nordfelt said Wednesday that the reconstruction means better access for people living in one of Utah's fastest growing areas, and for major distribution centers in the area like UPS and Costco.

Communities in western Salt Lake County and Tooele County are within the fifth-fastest growing area in the state, according to U.S. Census data.

"For the last couple of years, a lot of people would rather not drive through that construction area," Nordfelt said.

In 2005, the average daily traffic on the highway was 18,305 cars, according to the Utah Department of Transportation. In 2004, the average daily traffic was 18,360 cars.

UDOT spokeswoman Bethany Eller said she wasn't sure if the end of construction would impact traffic volumes on U-201. Population growth is a bigger factor in determining the volume, she said.

During a ribbon-cutting event Wednesday on the new Redwood Road interchange, cars and trucks zoomed past on the newly reconstructed U-201. The orange construction barrels that once lined the road were gone.

Jason Davis, deputy director of UDOT Region 2, which covers Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties, said Wednesday that U-201 was "as basic and Spartan and as bare bones as you get" before the two-year construction project.

"Now it's not just a transportation asset, but an asset to the community," he said.

Over the next 25 years, UDOT has plans to continue to improve U-201. Future improvements will include widening the road between 3200 West and 5600 West.

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