By J. Marcos Giraldi
Bottlenecks on Utah freeways rank among the worst in the nation.
Each year, the American Highway Users Alliance releases a document ranking the worst congested freeways in the country.
In its 2004 report released last week, the organization placed Interstate 15 and Interstate 80 in Salt Lake City among its top 50 freeways with serious bottlenecks.
According to the Alliance, Utah drivers waste millions of hours each year as they slowly move through the freeways to arrive at their destinations.
Some officials from the Utah Department of Transportation said they disagree with the assigned ranking because they do not think the bottlenecks on both of the highways are as bad as other areas in the nation.
Representatives from other cities and states that received a low ranking on the report, such as Norman Hill of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, questioned the overall accuracy of the report, saying there were many factors not considered.
“Everybody knows how hard it is to keep traffic flowing in L.A, but you also have to consider the size of this place,” Hill said.
Hill also said the city was already aware before the release of the report of the flow of traffic on Los Angeles freeways.
Michael Hansen, a UVSC student and Salt Lake City resident, said during rush hours it takes him over an hour to get to school.
“That place [the freeway] is a zoo in the morning,” he said. “If you want to make it on time to school or to work you have to get up really early to be safe.”
Hansen also said many times he has seen people reading the paper while they slowly advance through the congested areas of the freeway.
“I usually drive with my girlfriend, and we just get a couple of good CDs to keep us awake and don”t bore ourselves to death,” Hansen said.
The Utah Department of Transportation is working on a project that may allow them to add an extra line of travel going each direction; however, the cost of such a project is extremely high.
Officials said in order to accomplish the project, the Department of Transportation must receive help from tax money through the state legislature.
The Department of Transportation thinks the task of collecting funds for the project will not be easy. Before the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, the state government assigned large amounts of funding to improve the conditions of the freeway.
Statistics from the Department of Transportation show that if implemented, the project might help to reduce rush hour delays by an average of 16 minutes per trip.