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The City Journals

Bangerter improvements mean relocation for some

Feb 23, 2022 06:40PM ● By Collin Leonard

Intersection of Bangerter Highway and 9800 South. (Collin Leonard/City Journals)

By Collin Leonard | [email protected]

Driving down Bangerter Highway, only one stop light remains from 4700 South through 13400 South. As the State Environmental Study phase of the project to remove the final signal interchange at 9800 South nears finalization, the Utah Department of Transportation has begun communicating what to expect next. To realize the promise of improved traffic flow, residential and commercial properties will be acquired by the government, forcing home and business owners to relocate in the near future.

The corridor moves more than 60,000 vehicles every day, with that number expected to double by 2050. John Gleason, director of public relations at UDOT, moved to South Jordan 13 years ago. “It’s a great centralized place. We’re seeing tremendous amounts of growth here, which is why it’s so important to make the best decisions for our future.”

Those overseeing this project have been working to answer questions and field comments since the summer of 2021. Brian Allen is the active Project Manager on this and other interchange projects along the highway. “We work in the government because we really believe in what we do. I really enjoy engaging with the public. We take those comments and consider all the options. It’s always great to hear from the people who live in these places,” Allen said.

The city of South Jordan has publicly favored the more expensive underpass option, but has not announced what sources of funding will be used to cover the $24 million difference from the overpass design. There is a possibility the cost will be split between the city and state.

Elk Ridge Middle School is at the center of the discussion, as partial acquisition of their property is planned along with a potential move of the popular pedestrian bridge used by students. Sandy Riesgraf, director of communication at Jordan School District, said “we’ve been working for six months, and are excited to continue working with [UDOT] in this process. For us, student safety is a priority; making sure we have safe walking routes.”

There is much at stake for the school district, as the proposed overpass option moves the pedestrian bridge farther from the middle school. In a city council meeting in January there was mention of the school board potentially selling school land to offset the extra cost of the underpass option.

Tracy Miller, president of the board of education, said “Jordan School District has a very good relationship with the city and UDOT.” She said all three entities are working together “to explore options,” but indicated it was too soon to publicly come forward with anything concrete.

There are over 20 property acquisitions for this project (four commercial properties and 19-21 residential properties). These home and business owners have received letters from relocation consultants hired by the state, and will be required to pack up and move. Some business owners are worried they will be moved far from their customer base, while others predict struggling to find a new space in the limited commercial real estate market. Surrounding businesses will be potentially impacted by the ongoing construction and lost revenue. Even so, there is acknowledgement that this project is important for the healthy growth of the city.

Residents feel similarly. A real estate agent living in one affected property said he’s “not opposed to changes, as long as the relocation is fair,” mentioning the difficulty relocation agents will have in the competitive housing market. Another resident expressed concern for his aging neighbors and what might be a difficult transition for them.

An acquisition agent working on the project provided more complete information on what these homeowners should expect from the process. The government, through the Utah Relocation Assistance Act, will take into account moving costs, the appraised value of homes, changing mortgage interest rates, closing costs and more when relocating each family. They do warn, however, that no financing help can be provided, and the comparable house is not limited to South Jordan but includes the surrounding Salt Lake County area. Once an offer is presented, the homeowner has 90 days before they must move.

After funding is secured (most likely by April), relocation agents will start with offers on commercial properties, then residential, and finally the partial acquisitions of another 19 properties. Each offer is made with in-depth appraisals through licensed brokers and real estate agents acting as independent consultants to the project.

With so many unknowns still to come, the project team, the city of South Jordan and its residents eagerly await the finalization of the State Environmental Study, with the hope that the sacrifices made by all will bear fruit in the coming decades.