Lawmakers Push for Bridge in Utah

Tue January 09, 2007 - West Edition

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah (AP) With local support, a state legislator is proposing a 7-mi. (11.2 km) bridge across Utah Lake for commuters.

Motorists say it can take two hours to drive from Provo around the lake’s northern end to Saratoga Springs.

About 30,000 residents live in the Cedar Valley on the west side of the lake, with additional growth expected. Only a few hundred lived there a decade ago.

Rep. Kenneth Sumsion, R-American Fork, said he’ll push for $5 million in legislative funding in January for an engineering and environmental study. Bridge construction could cost between $150 million to $500 million and would likely require tolls, possibly paid to a private company that builds it, Sumsion said.

“The day will come sooner or later that the state would be paying for it, or we can move it forward with different kinds of financing,” Sumsion said.

Federal funding for the bridge could be possible, Congressman Chris Cannon, R-Utah, said.

Local officials like Sumsion’s idea. Only country roads link Saratoga Spring and Eagle Mountain to Wasatch Front highways. Some improvements are already planned — the Mountain View corridor on the west side of the Salt Lake valley and a connector route past Lehi — but more options are needed to keep up with growth, officials said.

“You add 20,000 people in 10 years and your roads haven’t widened, guess what? You’re going to have bottlenecks,” said John Hendrickson, Eagle Mountain’s city administrator.

Some residents are torn. A bridge would be a timesaver, but it would likely attract additional residents.

The Utah Lake Commission endorsed Sumsion’s study proposal, but said any bridge should be built on pilings instead of a causeway, to avoid altering the chemistry of the lake, the Utah Lake Commission said.