VINEYARD — Without a Bangerter Highway, an alternative interstate and other major north-south roads through Utah County, the Interstate 15 reconstruction project beginning in a few years will cause major congestion, and the Utah Department of Transportation is trying to remedy that.

The Vineyard Connector, one of four roads in the Access Utah County project, would provide access in the north part of the county without drivers having to jump on I-15.

"It will be a vital link during the I-15 reconstruction in Utah County," said Joe Walker, public involvement coordinator for the Access Utah County project.

The project, which is fully funded with $170 million, is still in the environmental stage, and project members are still evaluating the different alignments the road could take. The new road would run from Vineyard to American Fork. Pioneer Crossing Boulevard, another road in the Access Utah County project located in Lehi, would join into the road.

UDOT project manager Bryan Adams said during a tour with the Utah Transportation Commission in May that the project team had about 20 different variations in the alignments for the connector.

Adams said that the project team has not yet determined a preferred alignment. Members of the project team will meet with cities affected by the new road to see which alignments they prefer and receive other input from city leaders.

Project leaders met with Lindon city officials last week to discuss their views of the Vineyard Connector and what alignment they would prefer. Councilman Bruce Carpenter said he didn't think that the road would be properly

utilized by thousands of drivers and it would take up valuable real estate space in the city.

"Of all projects in Utah County, we're planning a five-lane road that will never be congested and which there is currently zero need for," he said.

Carpenter also said that the connector would not serve Lindon.

UDOT intends for the road to serve all of Utah County, especially north county residents who don't want to use I-15, and to also help relieve some of the freeway gridlock.

Walker said that not only would the road help with congestion during the I-15 project, but it also anticipates growth in the area.

"There have been times when UDOT has been criticized for not anticipating growth," he said. "This is an opportunity to anticipate growth and put the infrastructure in place before the growth hits full bore."

He added that the project team is working in conjunction with the cities so the road would fit in with their master plans. He also stressed that UDOT didn't choose the place for this road — it was part of the Mountainland Association of Governments' master plan. MAG projected the road would need to be in place to facilitate movement when the area explodes with growth, he said.

"We're (UDOT) not in the business of deciding where to put roads," he said. "It's not our job to say, 'We need a road here.' Our job is to build it and maintain it."

Walker also said that the road would connect into the Vineyard station for the commuter-rail service that will be coming to Utah County.

UDOT will hold an open house June 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Timpanogos Special Service District, 5050 W. 6400 North, American Fork, for public comment on the Vineyard Connector. Walker said UDOT does listen to and, in some cases, change the plans based on comments it receives during the comment period.

E-mail: [email protected]