Significant growth occurred in Wasatch County, which is west of Salt Lake City. That area has now been built out. As Utah’s population continues to grow, state officials project future growth will happen in Davis County. They project that by 2040, the number of homes in western Davis and Weber (northwest of Davis) counties will increase by 65 percent.
The section of Davis County where growth is expected is currently primarily farms and greenspace. It’s located on the banks of the Great Salt Lake.
With population growth comes traffic increases. Growth is expected to increase travel delays by 62 percent, even with all other planned projects in the area.
There are two major east-west routes in the state – I-15 and SR 67 or Legacy Parkway. The average daily traffic count for the roads in Davis County before the pandemic was 27,000 vehicles for Legacy Parkway and 167,000 for I-15.
“The West Davis Highway will be an alternative to I-15 and alleviate congestion particularly during peak hours,” says Mitchell Shaw, a Senior Communications Manager with UDOT.
The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) projects that the West Davis Highway, which will be SR 177, will reduce total delays on all roads in the West Davis area by 32.2 percent in 2040, compared to what the delays would be then if the road wasn’t built. This area covers from I-15 to the Great Salt Lake and from Parrish Lane in Centerville to 3000 South in Hooper/West Haven. The distance people will drive in congestion will decrease by 31 percent on north-south roads and 51.6 percent on east-west roads.
The area includes lots of raw land, vegetation, and farms. There were also some houses in the area. “We tried to choose the best route that would minimize the impact on the existing homeowners in the area,” Shaw says.
Building a new highway is a massive undertaking. Besides clearing debris, the team had to input drainage installation and standard road construction – paving, which Shaw notes is the easiest part of the construction. Other challenges included utility coordination.
Multiple bridges – including one over I-15, one over Legacy Parkway, and some over side streets – are being installed. To transfer the beams for the bridges to the worksite, UDOT had to close portions of Legacy Parkway and I-15 over a few weekends.
They transported eight steel bridge beams. At the work site, they were joined by 900 bolts to form four larger beams that are 192 feet long, 6 feet tall, and 99,000 pounds. To erect the beams and pile drive, the team used a few pieces of equipment, including a 350-ton crane, two 250-ton cranes, one 160-ton crane, and numerous smaller cranes.
As part of the project and UDOT’s focus on all travel types, the team is installing 10 miles of new trails. The trail, which is for cyclists and pedestrians, will run parallel to the new roadway. It will also make new connections to an extensive trail located on Legacy Parkway and will connect to the Jordan River. “The trail system will connect communities and give people more options for transportation,” Shaw says.
The project is being constructed via design-build. Each of the companies that make up FBC have worked with UDOT extensively. “Having experience and confidence in the general contractor is especially important on a project of this size and scope,” Shaw says. UDOT selected FBC since their proposal offered innovation, safety, quality, and reduced impacts to local communities, while being competitive cost-wise.
Construction on the project began in May 2021 and is expected to conclude in the summer of 2024, as scheduled. Shaw credits the design-build formula for keeping the project moving forward, “It leads to a more efficient way to deliver a project. With one team, the project is streamlined.”
He also noted an urgency to getting the project done as it will greatly benefit the state, especially the northern region. It’s a priority.
The budget for the project is $800 million. The state is providing all the funding via its highway fund. The project is on budget and Shaw credits the design-build delivery method for this as well.
With the new West Davis Highway on track to be delivered on schedule, commuters of all types will have another option. Drivers along I-15 will have shorter commute times and the state will be able to provide more travel options for its new residents.