Lawmakers are considering quick-fix, low-cost alternatives to free up space on the gridlocked east-west Salt Lake Valley roads.

Utah Department of Transportation executive director John Njord pitched the preliminary solutions on Tuesday to the Legislature's Transportation Interim Committee.

He called them "fairly novel ideas that are not tremendously expensive, but can make a significant impact on travel in west Salt Lake County," Njord said.

One option is to create "unbalanced" lanes. The idea is to make 4100 South three in lanes in one direction, with one lane going the other. Then, the next major east-west road, 4700 South, would be flipped, with three lanes going the opposite direction and the other lane the other way around.

"We think there is some real efficiencies we can achieve by doing something like that," Njord said.

Another idea is to use "reversible" lanes. Njord said the middle turning lane on 5400 South, 7800 South and 9000 South, would turn into an extra lane, following the heavy flow of traffic depending on the time of day.

Think of it sort of like I-80 now, where crews move the median in the morning and night to change the amount of lanes on the freeway to accommodate the commute.

Njord made it clear these are just concepts, but Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley, was still excited to see some work actually being done.

"It's on paper. That makes me excited something is happening here," Mayne said. The roads "are just absolutely capped now."

She told the Deseret News that the east-west arteries need to be upgraded in conjunction with the construction of the Mountain View Corridor. That 44-mile highway is planned to stretch from I-80 in western Salt Lake County to northern Utah County.


E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com