The Utah Department of Transportation now officially knows what Tooele County commuters have known for years — Tooele County is a bedroom community with around half of the workforce age population driving into Salt Lake County for work. The Tooele community has almost twice as many households as jobs. The commute creates stress on the county’s connection with Salt Lake County, especially during prime commute hours in the morning and evening. That stress not only affects drivers with heavy traffic delays, but frequent crashes add to delays and driver frustration. Solving the problem is hampered by a mountain range and a large body of water, making solutions difficult and expensive.
This information was gathered as part of the Northeast Tooele County Study conducted as a joint effort with UDOT and Tooele County, according to Grant Farnsworth, UDOT Region 2 planning manager.
UDOT looked at 18 different solutions to help the Tooele County/Salt County connection including new connections, new interchanges, frontage roads, reversible lanes, additional lanes, road extensions and barrier separated lanes. (See the graphic for a complete list of alternatives that were considered.)
As a result, UDOT the Northeast Tooele Study has identified four potential solutions for additional study and community feedback, according to Farnsworth, who presented the four solutions during a meeting of the Tooele County Council of Governments on April 28.
Solution 1 adds an extra lane west and eastbound to Interstate 80. Solution 2 brings state Route 201 into Tooele County using west and eastbound bypass lanes parallel to I-80. Solution 3 involves bringing SR-201 into Tooele County using an extension running between I-80 and the railroad. Solution 4 proposes an SR-201 route east of the railroad track joining state Route 36 at Mills Junction. (See the graphic for information on the possible solutions.)
Public comment will drive the next step, Fransworth said.
Public feedback will help drive the study’s final report with ultimately an environmental review of the study’s final recommendations.
The environmental review has not been founded yet. UDOT’s construction funding has been projected through 2030, so work on the recommendations may not start until 2031, Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth reviewed some of the work already completed or scheduled by UDOT that will help relieve some of the stress from the Tooele/Salt Lake commute.
Those projects include: The Midvalley Highway first phase is open which has reduced delays on SR-36, the environmental assessment to extend the Midvalley Highway is underway, westbound auxiliary lanes were added between LakePoint and Saltair decreasing land closures and increasing capacity, Balck Rock bridge replacement added southbound auxiliary lane to SR-36 to Saddleback and widened bridges for future land expansion on I-80, Mills Junction intersection with Pole Canyon Road realignment, future widening of SR-36 and I-80, possible widening of first phase of Midvalley Highway as population grows and funding allows.
Details on the study can be found at netooelecountystudy.udot.utah.gov/. Feedback can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.