Residents have mixed feelings about upcoming Bangerter Highway intersection overhaul
Apr 10, 2018 04:24PM
● By Carl Fauver
Taylorsville City Councilman Curt Cochran spoke with concerned area residents during the UDOT 6200 South–Bangerter Highway interchange public hearing. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
George Rowe is confident he’ll “make out OK” when Utah Department of Transportation crews bulldoze his home, to make room for a new freeway-style traffic interchange at 6200 South and Bangerter Highway.
“I’ve talked to other people this has happened to, who live near other interchanges they have done,” he said. “Based on what they’ve been paid for their homes, I anticipate things will go smoothly with UDOT’s purchase of mine.”
But nearby residents such as Cindy Jensen and Carina Bennett aren’t at all happy. They’re not losing their homes, but they are losing the way they exit their neighborhood.
“We have near-miss accidents all the time already,” Jensen said. “And now UDOT wants to take away the left turn out of our neighborhood (to go east on 6200 South, just west of Bangerter Highway). It’s going to be a nightmare and much more dangerous.”
And then there’s Ken and Amy Barry, who live northeast of the intersection. Their home is not scheduled to be bulldozed. But they have been after UDOT since 2012, for damages done when the Bangerter corridor was widened, in preparation for the new interchange.
“They did several thousands of dollars in damage, shifting (Bangerter Highway) closer to our back fence,” Barry said. “We’ve had to replace windows and floor tiles. Pictures and knickknacks were knocked off shelves. The (earth) tamping machine they used terrified my 3-year-old daughter (now age 9). It’s been a nightmare.”
That’s a small sampling of the many opinions and emotions expressed at a recent open house for the Bangerter Highway–6200 South project — held just a stone’s throw from the intersection, at Westbrook Elementary School — where UDOT officials played to a “packed house.”
“It’s been very busy all night, which doesn’t surprise us at all,” said UDOT Construction Engineer Bryan Chamberlain. “People were anxious to see our proposed design for the intersection, and we’re glad they’re expressing their opinions. This is an important part of our environmental study and the decision-making process.”
UDOT Communication Manager Tim Beery added, “Due to all the (population) growth in the southwest part of the valley, we’re working to essentially make Bangerter Highway another belt route. Over the next several years, it’s (UDOT’s) plan to upgrade all of the intersections along the highway.”
To this point, revamped intersections have been completed along Bangerter Highway at Redwood Road (near 13600 South) and at 7000 and 7800 South. Bangerter intersections at 5400 South, 9000 South and 11400 South are under construction, while 6200 South awaits a spring 2019 groundbreaking.
“The traffic alignment shift we are recommending is to the west (of the existing Bangerter Highway corridor at 6200 South),” said UDOT Project Director Marwan Farah at the open house. “That shift will require us to purchase (and remove) 25 to 32 homes, along with two stand-alone businesses and part of a strip mall. A shift to the east would have forced 117 homes to be torn down.”
Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson — and the city council’s two newest members, Meredith Harker and Curt Cochran — also attended the hearing, to talk with residents.
“I know a lot of people in the Fox Hills neighborhood (where UDOT plans to eliminate the left, eastbound turn onto 6200 South) are upset,” Mayor Overson said. “The city will have to look at options that might include adding a traffic light.”
Harker added, “People have expressed concerns to me, but I think they also see the benefits (of a higher speed interchange). I think we need to wait to see what UDOT’s final plan is and then carefully study how (the city) can help.”
The new councilwoman — whose district includes the interchange — impressed at least one constituent.
“We’ve been getting the runaround (from UDOT) for five years now,” homeowner Barry said. “But I had the chance to speak with Councilwoman Harker (during the public hearing), and I feel like she was very sincere in wanting to help us out. Right now, UDOT also seems to be more responsive to our problems, so hopefully everything will work out.”
After assessing public comments from the hearing, UDOT officials were expected to release their final construction recommendation by the end of March. The rest of this year will be spent negotiating with displaced homeowners to acquire property.
Of the 18 Bangerter Highway intersections that have been or will be upgraded, this 6200 South interchange is expected to be the most expensive. Due primarily to the necessary relocation of a near-half-mile section of 78-inch aqueduct pipe, construction of the freeway-style interchange is expected to cost $64 million.
That’s nearly double the $32.6 million spent on the least expensive interchange upgrade at 7800 South.