LEHI — Planned improvements along state Route 92 have some residents angry, while others are wondering about the cost.

The approximately $130 million project is designed to alleviate congestion during rush hour, particularly in front of Flash Technologies, with construction of an expressway on the south side of the existing highway between I-15 and Suncrest Drive-Highland Boulevard.

The current highway would also be rebuilt and widened to the Alpine Highway intersection, a developing commercial area.

That portion of the project is to be completed by 2010. However, the environmental assessment stretches to the mouth of American Fork Canyon. If that stretch of highway isn't rebuilt within five years of the completion of the first phase, or about 2015, then the environmental assessment for that section may have to be done over, Utah Department of Transportation deputy project manager Dan Avila said.

The entire project is estimated to cost some $230 million, shaving some four minutes off the commute.

"It's not about saving time," spokesman Joe Walker said. "It's more about providing a transportation need in a growing part of the county."

The expressway is to keep traffic moving all the way to and from the freeway.

"It seems odd to me to be putting this much money for this traffic count," Alpine resident Ross Welch said while attending an open house for the project at Flash Technologies on Thursday. "It's pricey. Some other areas would like to see that money."

Current estimates show that as many as 55,000 cars per day travel on the west end of S.R. 92 near I-15 while some 32,000 cars per day travel the highway through Highland.

In front of Flash Technologies during rush hour the road nears gridlock, Avila said. If nothing is done by 2030 the entire length of the two-lane road could be in gridlock at peak times during the day, he said.

Plans are to widen the road to six lanes where the traffic counts are highest, then down to four lanes as it passes through Highland. Two lanes would go in each direction on the main highway and one lane would go in each direction on the expressway or "quick lanes."

The express route is designed to pass under cross streets, avoiding stop-and-go traffic for commuters headed to or from the freeway.

Meanwhile, to make way for wider and safer intersections, particularly at 5600 West in Highland, UDOT plans to buy and demolish nine homes. In total, some 13 homes are destined for the wrecking ball.

Sound walls are planned along some stretches, but not where the road passes by the Brookhaven Villas community. That has residents upset.

Combined with the northwest wind, "we get all the noise," complained Len Moon.

"Noise is the biggest factor," noted Bob Lewis.

The neighbors met with UDOT sound engineers earlier this week to no avail because the area fails to meet the qualifications to get a sound wall, Moon said. The neighbors are also concerned that UDOT is curving the expressway toward their homes, but that's because of an existing aqueduct, they were told.

Meanwhile, on the eastern end of the project, still some seven years away, Dennis Mahalko is concerned that a planned trail in front of his house just east of the Alpine Highway will cause his home to lose value.

"Why ruin me?" he questioned.

"It's a big waste of money," said his neighbor, Ed Villarreal. "Nobody is happy on our street."

"The state should bite the bullet and buy our houses instead of us having to bite the bullet," Mahalko said.


E-mail: rodger@desnews.com