By Emily Hudson
The Utah Department of Transportation rejected a plan that would have decreased highway traffic overflow through Provo and Orem, disappointing Provo city administrators, but pleasing Grandview residents.
The plan included the construction of two one-way, two-lane roads on either side of I-15. However, because of the negative effect the roads would have on the wetlands along I-15 from 620 North to 2000 North where the access points to the frontage roads would have been constructed, UDOT decided to find a new way to alleviate Provo”s traffic issues.
Merrel Jolley, who has been the project manager of the I-15 project for three and a half years, said approximately nine acres of wetlands would have been affected if the roads were built.
Grandview neighbors on 1740 North were vocal in their protest against the construction of the frontage roads for fear the new roads would bring highway traffic through their neighborhood. The plan that was favored by Provo City officials included turning the road they live on into a direct access point to the frontage roads.
Ted Tronson, the Grandview North neighborhood chair, was concerned with the estimate that 3,000 extra cars would be re-routing through the residential streets if the frontage roads were built.
“[About] 3,000 extra cars a day is pretty substantial,” Tronson said. “And we feel like that is an underestimate.”
There was also a concern with the increase of traffic on BYU game days.
“Traffic through our streets would be out of this world if people found out about a faster way to get to a BYU game,” Tronson said.
Grandview residents said they felt city officials had misled them. The frontage plans seemed to be a contradiction of previous promises made by the city council.
Seven years ago the city council considered a freeway interchange that would have run through the Grandview neighborhood. But after discussions with Grandview residents, they promised in writing that they would cease any consideration for an interchange in that area in the future.
“We just kind of hate being lied to,” Tronson said. “People think we”re whining up here, but we”re not. We”re just trying to get them to keep their promises.”
The safety of the Grandview children was also a concern for residents.
Tronson said 820 children in the Grandview neighborhood attend Grandview Elementary, many who walk back and forth to school.
However, Jones was adamant that the frontage plan would not have had such an impact on the Grandview Hill neighborhood.
“The neighbors were paranoid that this would have been a freeway interchange, but it wasn”t,” Provo City Engineer Nick Jones said. “They were kind of alarmed by some people in the neighborhood so they weren”t really hearing what we were saying, so that”s life.”
However, the decision not to build the roads had nothing to do with their complaints.
“The neighborhoods certainly voiced their opinions but that wasn”t the deciding factor,” Jolley said.
Jones was disappointed that the UDOT decided not to give the city the green light.
“We asked for it, and Orem asked for it, because we needed to alleviate traffic,” Jones said. “Essentially, now the roads will just stay the same as they are, and over time they will become more congested.”
The city has other plans to lighten the traffic load such as widening Geneva Road. City engineers are working to come up with another plan like the frontage system that will lighten Provo”s freeway traffic overflow without such a negative affect on wetlands and residents. But other than construction within the city, there isn”t much else Provo engineers can currently do.
“At this point in time we”ve just got to step back and see what to do,” Jolley said.