State officials are launching a new I-15 corridor study

I-15 Traffic

In August we posted an article discussing Utah Counties growing population and the need for additional freeways, Salt Lake and Davis Counties have the same concerns. Transportation and access is crucial to landowners all over the state. State officials have launched a new study to determine how to handle the growth.

Here are a few of the traffic management ideas they are exploring:

  • Aggressive metering at on-ramps
  • Encouraging walking, biking and public transportation
  • Widening and adding roads

The article below was published by the Salt Lake Tribune and goes into further detail, we will continue to update our site with new details and how it affects Utah Landowners.

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State officials are launching a new study about how to handle burgeoning traffic along the Wasatch Front’s Interstate 15 corridor — but it will be quite different than old studies that looked mostly at adding new roads or widening old ones.

This study will also look at reducing traffic by better coordinating with the area’s mass transit, biking and walking — and even changing land-development patterns to put more people near transit stations or to make neighborhoods more walkable.

It will also look at new traffic-management techniques, including what officials call “aggressive metering” at on-ramps. It would be coordinated system-wide to time the entry and spacing of cars to smooth traffic flow and increase capacity, and may expand to nearby Interstate 215 and State Road 201.

“We’re coming to the conclusion that we’re really good at building roads at UDOT. But we can’t build our way out of congestion,” David Schwartz, program manager for Utah Department of Transportation Region 2, told the Utah Transportation Commission on Friday to explain the expanded scope of the study.

Two key pieces of funding came Friday for that joint study by UDOT, the Utah Transit Authority, the Wasatch Front Regional Council and the Mountainland Association of Governments.

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded an $820,000 TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant. And the Utah Transportation Commission voted to rearrange funding for other projects to add $2 million for the project.

Carlos Braceras, executive director of UDOT, said the last major study on I-15 in Salt Lake County was completed in 1995 — for a freeway rebuild that occurred before the 2002 Olympics — and looked at projected needs for 20 years (ending in 2015.)

“We’re ahead of those [projected] volumes already,” Braceras told the commission.

Andrew Gruber, director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, said the Wasatch Front’s population is projected to grow by 60 percent by 2040, and the amount of vehicle-miles traveled is expected to grow by 78 percent.

“Congestion and delay are going to increase. The question is how we are going to manage it,” he said.

More than just widening or adding roads, Gruber said it requires reducing potential traffic by better connecting and encouraging the use of mass transit, biking and walking, and changing development patterns so more occurs near transit to make its use more attractive — and take more people off the roads.

Schwartz said the study will “bring in transit, other modes of transportation, look at technologies like metering and managed lanes” and study secondary roads near I-15, “to make sure we’re making the right decisions.”

The study will also include looking at more aggressive metering of cars entering freeways, based on a first-in-the-world design used by Melbourne, Australia. All of its ramps are metered and coordinated, controlled by algorithms that people in control centers can switch with conditions to balance traffic flow.

Melbourne says its aggressive metering has added the equivalent of another lane of capacity to its freeway system at peak times, without actually constructing that extra lane.

“It’s like air traffic control — only for cars,” said transportation commissioner Dannie McConkie.

Braceras said UDOT has used some on-ramp metering since 1998, but meters have not been coordinated with one another to improve flows throughout the entire system. He said the more aggressive metering, if the study suggests proceeding, would likely include the nearby I-215 and State Road 201 freeways that feed into I-15.