A nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Utah’s tech community Silicon Slopes is pushing to begin expansion of I-15 in the Lehi area in order to support Utah’s drastic growth in recent years.
“Traffic has already reached unbearable levels and will only continue to get worse as Utah’s Tech Corridor expands,” said Executive Director of Silicon Slopes Clint Betts in a press release.
The Utah Department of Transportation has already approved a project to combat congestion along the Tech Corridor, which runs between Lehi Main Street and the interchange at S.R. 92 (Timpanogos Highway) at Thanksgiving Point. This new construction would cost an estimated $450 million and begin in summer 2020.
However, the new project— dubbed “Flippin Traffic”— claims 2020 is not soon enough.
According to a press release, the construction project includes two additional lanes in each direction, a new one-way frontage road between 2100 North and S.R. 92, and newly reconstructed interchanges at S.R. 92 and 2100 North.
The project also includes improvements for pedestrians and cyclists, 13 bridge replacements, and a newly constructed bridge just south of Thanksgiving Point along 2300 West.
Lehi City along with many local businesses have voiced their support for the initiative, according to Christina Sanders of 97th Floor, a Lehi-based marketing company.
“The initiative has launched a growing discussion on social media on how best to handle the continued growth in the Lehi area,” Sanders said in an email.
A website called flippintraffic.com explains the reasons behind the desired project.
“Because Lehi is the epicenter of much of the economic development in Utah, continued and worsening traffic congestion in the area could stunt Utah’s overall economic growth,” the website said.
Megan Foulk is a schoolteacher who commutes from Provo to Lehi daily. She said she thinks more construction on I-15 would be “really annoying,” but for the best in the long run.
“There is only the one main-main road in Utah and therefore it gets heavy traffic,” Foulk said. “Utah keeps building and building homes so it will eventually need to be done. If it’s bad now, it’s only going to get worse.”
BYU student Steven Brown agrees. Brown drives from Provo to Highland about once a week. He said traffic at and around the point of the mountain becomes worse every year.
“If we wait until 2020, we’ll also be building 20 minutes extra into our commute just to make it past S.R. 92 and Lehi,” Brown said.
The “Flippin Traffic” project encourages Utah County residents to email, call, write a letter to or visit their local representatives to request that this and other key projects be moved forward by two years. This would be made possible with a bond, similar to bonds done for I-15 reconstruction in 1997, 2007, and 2008.
The bond would borrow the already set-aside money in 2018 to begin the project, then pay it off with the planned cash flow in 2020.