Support west side communities, comment on UDOT’s I-15 expansion proposal

$1.6 billion could be put to much better use being invested in improving and incentivizing mass transit.

If you were to ask the average Utahn, “Should the Wasatch Front follow the same blueprint for freeways and urban sprawl that everyone hates about Los Angeles?” no one would answer “Yes, we want the Wasatch Front to be a junior Los Angeles, but with more air pollution.” For some reason, that’s what the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is attempting. However, UDOT’s priorities should span beyond decreasing traffic congestion and commuter time. The agency plays a large role in quality of life in our state, and that includes much more than traffic. 

Utah Department of Transportation’s (UDOT) latest proposal is a love letter to freeways and asphalt. It includes spending $1.6 billion to widen I-15 from North Salt Lake to Farmington.    

Westside residents are rallying against the expansion, and for good reason. Studies show that building more freeways is ultimately a dead end proposition even if the only thing you care about is commuter time, because building freeways only encourages more traffic

Cities throughout the country (Rochester, Las Vegas, Nashville, St. Paul, Syracuse, Portland, New Orleans, Denver and others) are taking action. They are tearing out freeways, reuniting downtowns with outer neighborhoods, improving air quality and transportation options, and spurring the construction of mixed-used development and affordable housing where freeways once stood.

We leave you with this quote from Peter Park, former Milwaukee planner: “There are no examples of a neighborhood that improved when a highway was cut through or over it. But every in-city highway removal has improved economic, environmental, and social opportunities for the local community.”

UDOT is taking public comments on the expansion until January 13th. Please make sure the preferences and priorities of the public are well expressed before they go any further with this plan. 

Read the Tribune’s coverage here.