PROVO All right, Provoans, your mayor and City Council believe it is high time you learned a new word. Actually, it's an acronym and quite fun to pronounce.
Yes, the correct pronunciation is spooey. Spooey. Amusing as it is to say, what it stands for is even more important, city leaders insist, even critical to the future of Provo, its west-side neighborhoods and its historic downtown.
A SPUI is a single-point urban interchange. Before the eyes roll back into your head at such bureaucracy-speak, all
it really stands for is this: The mother of all freeway exits.
You have seen a SPUI before. The gargantuan I-15 exit at University Parkway in Orem near Utah Valley State College? That's a SPUI.
Provo wants one for its Center Street exit, contends it must have one, and says you can help.
What are you doing Saturday, say from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.? If Mayor Lewis Billings had his way, you'd spend a portion of that time shilling for a Center Street SPUI at an open house at Dixon Middle School, 750 W. 200 North.
"We need to encourage Provo residents to go," Billings told the City Council earlier this month.
On Thursday, Billings and Council Chairman George Stewart signed a joint letter to the Utah Department of Transportation that said a SPUI is necessary and called for it to include seven lanes over the railroad tracks where a two-lane viaduct now stands.
The SPUI would improve the poor east-west traffic flow in Provo and support future growth on the west side, including the airport, the mayor and council believe.
That's not all this open house is about. Utah County will experience the mother of all local construction projects in the next decade when UDOT widens I-15 for 43 miles from the Point of the Mountain to the south Payson exit.
Provo's leaders also want:
• A four-mile frontage road system along I-15 from 800 South in Orem to their proposed Center Street SPUI.
• A 500 West underpass; when I-15 was built more than 40 years ago, it severed 500 West at about 1300 South.
• The intersection of 820 North and Geneva Road moved so that an "S" bend connects 820 North to 620 North at Geneva Road, eliminating the 820 North underpass.
Provo's letter, which was complimentary of UDOT, said city leaders prefer Option B, with some adjustments, of UDOT's draft statement, which it will present at the open house.
That option only calls for five lanes over Center Street, instead of seven.
UDOT wants to use the open house to gauge input from residents. Those interested can view the draft proposals and an interactive map at www.udot.utah.gov/i15utahcounty.
Provo has even bigger plans, and Billings said city leadership's desire for a SPUI and a frontage road system is part of a larger package that would include a widened Geneva Road, a road from the airport east to the University Avenue I-15 exit and another road north from the airport that would connect to Geneva Road near Orem.
For more than a decade UDOT and Provo have wanted to widen Geneva Road, which could have as many as seven lanes through Orem, but historic homes in Provo have stalled the project."If we can't get a (frontage road) system, we can't reduce the Geneva Road widening," he said. "If we don't get a northwest connector, Geneva Road doesn't work. If we lose any part of these plans, it doesn't work."