SALT LAKE CITY — Utah transportation officials considering a shortcut road between Salt Lake County and Tooele County are rethinking the idea after a new state study showed it would cost about $300 million and require an expensive, a mile-long (1.6 kilometer) tunnel through the Oquirrh Mountains.

A recently-completed $200,000 feasibility study funded by the Legislature for the Wasatch Front Regional Council reviewed proposed shortcut options using different canyons across the Oquirrh Mountains.

The preferred option would have allowed drivers to travel 50 mph (80 kph) from Herriman to Tooele by building a new two-lane road that requires a tunnel that would cost about $132 million to construct, the Salt Lake Tribune reported . It would take drivers up Butterfield Canyon in Salt Lake County and down Middle Canyon in Tooele County.

The new study found that that preferred option would only save drivers 10 minutes of travel time.

The current path through Butterfield and Middle canyons limits travel to 35 mph (56 kph) and is closed during the winter.

Large trucks are known for getting stuck in the canyon after taking a chance and travelling on the road, not realizing how narrow and winding it is.

Southern Salt Lake and Tooele counties officials have long wanted an improved shortcut that could serve as an alternative when I-80 is blocked by accidents.

Tooele County Commission Chairman Wade Bitner determined Friday that the project is “not realistic at this time.”

The rest of the commission agreed with Bitner’s opinion.

Transportation officials are hopeful that a second option that looks at extending State Road 201 to close parallel I-80 will be a better option, at one-third of the price of the preferred option and without the need for a tunnel.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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