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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Intersection construction already frustrating drivers, will continue through summer

Mar 18, 2019 03:48PM ● By Cassie Goff

Efforts are ongoing to keep drivers on the roads, without cutting through the parking lots of businesses neighboring construction. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

One of the main intersections of entry into Cottonwood Heights is under major construction. The Fort Union Boulevard and Highland Drive intersection is being expanded in a collaborative project between the city and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). 

The major components of this project include the addition of an exit-only lane on the I-215 westbound ramp and dual left-turn lanes in every direction, which is estimated to take around six weeks. Drivers itching to try out the new additions will have to wait until late June at the earliest, when construction is aiming to be completed. 

 “It’s been 12 years since that was proposed,” said Councilmember Scott Bracken in December, and it’s finally coming to fruition.

For the last four years, it’s been a slow process to get the intersection ready for the current construction. In May 2015, former Public Works Director Mike Allen reported that appraisals had been delivered to property owners around the intersection. Almost a year later, in April 2016, Allen was still working with surrounding property owners and ensuring the correct right-of-way to allow the construction. 

Another entity was involved with the intersection widening at that time. In preparation of the widening, Rocky Mountain Power had to move their power poles back from the curb. In summer of 2016, those new poles had been ordered and the realignment construction began a year later.

“Widening is the shortest part of the project, compared to the poles and the right-of-way needed,” said Allen on April 26. 

In that same year, the 2016 Fort Union Study Master Plan was published. It stated, “the Fort Union Boulevard/Highland Drive intersection is no longer barren space that serves only to move cars through the area and collect stormwater, but is instead a major center of transit, pedestrian, and business activity.” 

Some major goals outlined for the intersection in the plan mentioned above include: improve pedestrian access; strengthen the open space connection between Mountview Park and the properties running east and west along Fort Union; explore access management; conduct a parking study on all four corners of the intersection to determine need and potential sharing; create visual design for the intersection as the center of city, detailing how all four corners are tied in; redevelop older commercial properties that are needing assistance with permitting and inspections; consider shared parking facilities; and improve the bicycle movement in the area west of Fort Union with bike lanes, higher quality sidewalks, trail connections lighting and other amenities. 

In 2017, the former Cottonwood Heights City Council was working on ensuring the right-of-way and land acquisition. On Feb. 7 of that same year, they passed Resolution 2017-06, which authorized and approved the proceedings in eminent domain as necessary, which cost the city around $128,500 for intersection modification and road widening purposes. 

“This may be the first time we have to more forward with imminent domain,” said former council member and current Mayor Mike Peterson. “It is critical to move forward with this.”

During the 2018 calendar year, many of the public works conversations mentioned the intersection in some capacity. On June 12, Public Works Manager Matt Shipp reported that the project was out to bid. A few months later, on Sept. 11, he reported that the bid was completed, and the public information process was beginning. “It will be impactful for traveling residents,” Shipp said. 

Funding for this project is being pooled from multiple sources. On June 19, 2018, the Cottonwood Heights City Council voted unanimously to approve an interlocal agreement with Salt Lake County for a grant of over $3,000 in Corridor Preservation Funding. 

Now, in 2019, construction is underway. Residents and commuters will experience traffic delays due to the intersection construction until June, at the earliest.  

Drivers are already experiencing frustrations, as many of have been trying to cut through the Dan’s parking lot. There is now signage urging drivers not to cut through the surrounding parking lots. Especially since cutting through parking lots is illegal.  

To stay informed on the construction details and progress, join the email list by emailing UDOT’s Public Information Manager Amalia Deslis-Andrews at [email protected] with “Highland Dr.” in the subject line.