Utah Department of Transportation rolls out details for Interstate 80 road projects
Multi-million dollar project will include wildlife overpass
Wildlife advocates say they are thrilled with the Utah Department of Transportation’s commitment to provide wildlife mitigation along Interstate 80.
Over the last several months, citizens, in particular members of the nonprofit organization Save People Save Wildlife, have raised serious concerns with UDOT about the frequency of wildlife and vehicle collisions.
On Wednesday, the Utah Department of Transportation unveiled project details for the new truck lane and wildlife improvements that are planned for Interstate 80 between Jeremy Ranch and Lambs Canyon. Several Snyderville Basin residents attended the Department of Transportation’s open house at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School.
Sharon Cantwell, treasurer of Save People Save Wildlife, said members are “definitely pleased” with the Department of Transportation’s efforts to mitigate wildlife.
“It is 1000 times better than the zero mitigation that we had,” Cantwell said. “They are absolutely open and honest with us and we do see that they are stretching to do more than they have to. The entire team is excited to finally have a bridge and feels this is a great start.
“There will always be more that we can get done and we will soon begin looking at other areas that are of concern,” she said.
UDOT plans to add a climbing-truck lane in the westbound lanes of the Interstate between Jeremy Ranch and Parleys Summit. More than 16,000 trucks use this section of the Interstate daily, according to UDOT data. About seven miles of asphalt will also be replaced from west of Kimball Junction to Lambs Canyon.
“What we are doing is unveiling our plans that we have developed up until now for asphalt surface replacement and a new truck lane,” said John Montoya, the Department of Transportation’s project manager. “That is the general scope of the project, but within that, and what is particularly interesting, is the addition of a wildlife crossing just on the Salt Lake side of the county line.”
The $22 million project is being funded through the Utah Transportation Commission, including a $5 million grant for wildlife mitigation. The money won’t be available until October of 2017.
Montoya said construction won’t likely begin until late fall or early spring 2018.
As part of the project and the agency’s ongoing effort to provide wildlife mitigation in the area, a wildlife bridge will be constructed at Parley’s Summit in Salt Lake County. The preliminary designs for the bridge show a structure that will measure 45 feet wide, 345 feet long and will be suspended 19 feet above the Interstate.
“This is UDOT’s first overpass in the state for wildlife that we have built from scratch for that purpose and it is exciting to be a part of that,” Montoya said. “We have heard the comments from people up here and we are aware of the wildlife situation. We have had a very positive relationship with Save People Save Wildlife up until now we are looking forward to continuing that.”
In the fall of 2016, crews installed one mile of permanent wildlife fencing near Jeremy Ranch. Five additional miles of fencing are planned, in addition to more wildlife escape ramps.
“Although this is our disclosure of the solutions, we have had an ongoing dialogue and we feel like within those meetings and conversations we have gathered a lot of comments and, I think, there is generally a consensus that we are on the right track,” Montoya said.
The open house on Wednesday was also attended by Salt Lake County officials, who expressed concern about whether the bridge will be used for recreational activities as future trails are constructed that extend into the canyon near Parleys Summit.
Open house materials are available on the project website at http://www.intrepidudot.com/renovate-I-80/demo/project_partners/. For more information about the project contact UDOT at 888-528-9675 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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