UPHE on the proposed I-15 expansion
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) is one of the largest civic organizations of health care professionals in the Western US, with over 450 physicians and medical professionals and 3,000 members and supporters of the general public. We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Utah Dept. of Transportation (UDOT) proposal to spend $1.6 billion widening the I-15 freeway 18 miles from North Salt Lake to Farmington.
The headline of a New York Times article on Jan. 9, 2023 reads, “Widening Highways Doesn’t Fix Traffic. So Why Do We Keep Doing It?” In trying to answer that question the article points out that state departments of transportation were established for the exclusive purpose of building highways for vehicles, and given far more money than cities that were usually tasked with mass transit. But the world has changed dramatically since UDOT was formed in 1975. The pollution, public health, and sociologic mistakes made by the car-centric city planning of 40 and 50 years ago are now easily recognizable and constantly written about. The climate crisis is an indisputable reality now, an existential threat to modern civilization and to most of the world’s human inhabitants. And it will only become more so in the future. These are just some of the reasons why it is long overdue that UDOT re-evaluate its identity, its mission, and its relationship to the public. It should begin that much needed “make-over” immediately, starting with abandoning the proposal to widen I-15. Below we list multiple reasons.