A plan to support the reconstruction of I-15 from southern Salt Lake County into Utah County has been scaled back, with lawmakers now debating the idea of a smaller re-build to preserve the state's bonding capacity.

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans endorsed the idea of just rebuilding I-15 from American Fork to U.S. Highway 6 in Utah County. The group had supported a re-build from 12300 South in Salt Lake County to U.S. 6, but learned the American Fork option, which is estimated to cost $2.6 billion, might better-preserve bonding capacity.

The original plan, which would have added two lanes in both directions, was estimated to cost $7 billion.

House Republicans took no action to support financing for a smaller re-build during their caucus, but heard debate on the issue. If lawmakers can agree to support a reconstruction plan, the Utah Department of Transportation says it can begin work this year on designs for the re-build.

Construction could begin as early as 2010.

Legislators might still need to authorize the agency next year to issue bonds to finance the re-build, but a support this year indicates a willingness to give UDOT that authority, legislative leaders have said.

Carlos Braceras, UDOT deputy director, said he was still waiting to see what legislators did with the issue. "We'll see where this goes," he said. "There's still a day left."

By moving the re-build from 12300 South to American Fork, the state will miss out on a critical congestion point near the Point of the Mountain. But Braceras said the shift would still address the most congested part of I-15 in Utah County.

With the reconstruction, two new lanes would be added to I-15 and interchanges would be replaced. UDOT anticipates it would have to pay about $800,000 in interest costs on a bond for the rebuild.


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