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City Growth Paves Way for US-40 Job

Sat April 08, 2000 - West Edition
Alicia Blater


A 5.6-kilometer (3.5-mi.) stretch of US-40 north of Heber City, UT, is under construction in Wasatch County. Residents hope the project will help eliminate traffic jams and add safety to the busiest road through town.

Traffic in and out of Heber City has increased substantially over the past few years. In fact, there’s been a population explosion that earned Wasatch County the title of “fastest growing county in Utah” in 1998. The county was bumped off the top of the list in 1999, but remains a strong contender for the future. The county population now stands at 15,000 with Heber City accounting for 7,500.

In addition to permanent business and residential growth, the recreational opportunities of this pristine mountain community draw travelers in and out of the city via US-40. Increased travelers means increased road capacity and the need to widen those roads.

“In the case of this project, the road widens to two lanes each way leading into the town of Heber. Delays are taking place due to increased traffic volumes with travelers having to merge into one lane each way,” said Andrea Packer, Utah Department of Transportation public information officer.

The solution is a five lane road with two lanes each direction and a permissive left turning lane. Construction of the widening project began in late September with completion scheduled for August 2000.

The contractor, Granite Construction Company, has placed drainage pipes at several locations across the highway. Work is moving forward on a retaining wall built for a small portion of the project. Workers will then complete the west side, switch traffic and begin road reconstruction.

Site excavation produced no excess so Granite Construction ordered 104,000 metric tons (114,000 tons) of import from a nearby resident on US-40. “We can usually get import from properties near the project,” said Craig Tobin, Granite Construction project engineer.

Granite Construction is handling most of the project itself with assistance from a few subcontractors who have been brought in to work with signage, painting and trucking.

Warm fall and winter temperatures have allowed construction to continue virtually unhampered. “It’s been an exceptionally good winter for construction in Heber Valley,” said Philip Huff, UDOT project manager.

“UDOT began the design about five years ago but pulled it from the bidding process until special public lands funding for Olympic improvements became available,” said Huff.

The approximate $5.4-million federal funds spent on this widening project will pave the way to a lot more than 2002 Olympic venues. “People think we are getting these improvements just because of the Olympics, but these things were in the works long before the Olympics,” said Gaye McPhie of the Huber City Chamber of Commerce . In addition to county residents, the road improvements will benefit weekend and holiday recreational enthusiasts who visit many parts of Wasatch County.

“It’s been a really good project. We’ve had a minimal amount of complaints since this project doesn’t impact a lot of drivers,” said Tobin. “With the I-15 project, people are pretty used to construction in Utah right now.”




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