Who does the I-15 expansion really benefit?

An excellent op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune echoes the many reasons UPHE has presented in opposition to the Utah Department of Transportation’s (UDOT) plan to expand nearly 20 miles of I-15 along the Wasatch Front. 

Google Maps street view of I-15 near the Salt Lake City exit the expansion would start.

The author of the op-ed is Eric Ewert, a UPHE member, professor and chair of Weber State University’s Department of Geography, Environment & Sustainability. He references our comments to UDOT on the expansion, writing, “Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) distilled the many studies documenting the folly of building roads to ease traffic into a simple bullet list that even a state legislator can understand. UPHE, unlike UDOT, is actually committed to “clean air, clean energy and a clean future.”

Ewert goes on to describe why he stands with UPHE and many other experts, advocates and residents in opposition to the expansion, “Expanding freeways contributes to air pollution, rising urban temperatures and to the greater climate crisis. Freeways are essentially fossil fuel infrastructure, thus building and driving on them accelerates CO2 release, chokes our atmosphere with dust and emissions and traps a lot of heat. Research shows that noise pollution, traffic accidents and wasted commuter time all increase as well.”

The estimated cost of the project has jumped over $2 billion, from the initial $1.6 billion estimate to now $3.7 billion. The improvements UDOT could make to the public transportation infrastructure at this amount are huge. 

Other science and study backed points UPHE made in our comments were: 
-Freeway Expansions Have Failed to Improve Traffic Congestion in Other Cities
-Freeways Create Urban Sprawl: UDOT’s Value System Doesn’t Reflect the Public’s Value System
-Expanding Freeways Contributes to the Climate Crisis
-Freeways are Major Contributors to Air Pollution in Multiple Ways and Increase Urban Heat
-UDOT’s Future Traffic Density Modeling Omits Important Trends
-Freeways are Not the Solution and they are a Poor Return on Investment

Read the full op-ed in the Tribune here.