Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

August 14, 2018
Proposed Oquirrh Expressway to travel county’s east bench

Developer ready to donate right-of-way for alternate route 

With an early 2019 construction start date planned for the Midvalley Highway, Tooele County commissioners are now advancing plans for an alternate route out of the county into Salt Lake Valley.

The map that Saddleback developer Chris Robinson presented during his presentation on a proposed amendment to his development agreement during the County Commission’s Aug. 7 meeting highlighted a strip of land 150-feet wide running north to south from Lake Point to Bates Canyon Road east of the Union Pacific railroad line.

The strip of land represents a route for what Robinson calls Oquirrh Boulevard. The county commissioners prefer the name Oquirrh Expressway.

Robinson said he has been working with the County Commission on an eventual donation, once the preferred route is determined, of the right-of-way for the proposed Oquirrh Expressway. The donation is not contingent on approval of his proposed development agreement amendment, he said.

“For sometime we, meaning our company and others in Tooele County, have been talking about how do we get more access into Tooele County,” Robinson said. “We have I-80 to exit 99, state Route 36 and we have the Midvalley Highway coming on board. In the big picture, we have envisioned a future boulevard that we call Oquirrh Boulevard, similarly named to Wasatch Boulevard in Salt Lake County.”

Nobody has calculated the acreage of Robinson’s proposed land donation, but Tooele County Commissioner Myron Bateman estimated that a three or four mile strip of land 150 feet wide would be worth around $3 million.

The county spent $1.8 million for 222.4 acres of land for the Midvalley Highway in 2016. The money for the Midvalley purchase came from the corridor preservation fund, which is fund built up by a surcharge on all vehicles registered in Tooele County. The fund can only be used for new road projects approved by the Tooele County Council of Governments, a group composed of the county commissioners and all the mayors of towns and cities in Tooele County.

The County’s plans for the Oquirrh Expressway don’t end at Bates Canyon Road. The County is working with landowners south of Bates Canyon Road to bring the expressway as far south as possible, following the railroad, according to Bateman.

The expressway may start out as a two-lane highway, but with the 150-foot wide right-of-way, there will be plenty of room to expand the expressway to a four-lane highway, he said.

Oquirrh Expressway will run north to Lake Point where it will connect with UDOT’s planned extension of state Route 201 around the point of the Oquirrhs.

Getting SR-201 around the Oquirrh’s is the real pinch point in the plan, according to Bateman.

“UDOT has basically three alternatives they are looking at,” Bateman said. “Extending a two-lane wide road for SR-201 parallel to I-80, building an elevated road over the railroad track that would tie into SR-201, or tunneling a route to SR-201. All of them are expensive.”

There is no funding or construction date planned for the Oquirrh Expressway, but it is on UDOT’s 2050 long range plan, according to Tooele County Commission Chairman Wade Bitner.

“With the expressway on the 2050 plan, we need to do all the work we can to prepare for the expressway, like acquire the right-of-way,” Bitner said. “Then we can work on moving the plan up on UDOT’s schedule and get funding.”

Bitner said that’s how the County Commission was able to get funding for the first phase of the Midvalley Highway, which will run from mile marker 94 on I-80 to Sheep Lane on state Route 138.

The County, using corridor preservation funds, paid for the environmental impact statement for the Midvalley Highway, surveyed the route and acquired the property for the first phase.

UDOT is currently working on the design for the Midvalley Highway. The project should be ready to go out for bid in early 2019 with the completion date in mid-year of 2021, depending on weather, according to Bitner.


Tim Gillie

Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim has been writing for the Transcript Bulletin since October 2017. In February 2019 he was named as editor. In addition to being editor, Tim continues to write about Tooele County government, education, business, real estate, housing, politics and the state Legislature.A native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University, Tim became a journalist after a 20 year career with the Boy Scouts of America.

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4 thoughts on “Proposed Oquirrh Expressway to travel county’s east bench

  1. This sounds like it’ll be helpful on paper. I wonder if it’ll make a dent in traffic problems 30 years from now? Even though Robinson said it’s not contingent on getting his project approved, we all know what the County Commissioners will do. Get that approval stamp ready!

  2. What about a commuter train? I never hear anything about that being considered. I think that investing in mass transit would be a better idea than just putting in more roads. I think that this county has a responsibility to start the conversation about cleaner air now – not playing catch up in 20 years.

  3. This map does not match another one the developer has shown the lake point community that has roads coming off this dumping all these cars into the LakePoint residential areas. After seeing all his more detailed maps for his part and his development agreement (what’s in writing) I am highly concerned of the traffic issues and cost to all of us as taxpayers since his development agreement states specifically he is to be paid back for anything he dies for infrastructure such as this or if anyone uses it, connects to it in any way and such as you can read below which is taken from his development agreement. A donation if this land does not mean he won’t get his money back from the county and others 10 X’s the donated amount when he develops all his other land around it.

    Exact Development Agreement Sections.

    Other Financing Alternatives. Upon the request of Saddleback, the County shall
    cooperate in exploring the use of special improvement districts, special service
    districts, and other similar Project-related public procedures and institutions for the
    financing of the construction, improvement, or acquisition of infrastructure,
    facilities, lands, and improvements to serve the Project, whether or not located on
    the Property.

    Reimbursement for Non-Project Use of Infrastructure Improvements. To the extent
    that the infrastructure improvements installed or built by Saddleback as part of the
    Project are sized or otherwise required or utilized to accommodate future
    development outside of the Project, Saddleback shall be entitled to reimbursement
    of such development’s pro rata share of the cost relating to such improvements.
    Infrastructure improvements shall include the construction and installation of
    roadways, bridges, rail road crossings, drainage, water and sewer systems (to the
    extent governed by the County), parking facilities, equestrian, pedestrian, and
    bicycle trails, recreational facilities, landscaping, lighting and traffic control
    fixtures, and similar items. For purposes of this provision, reimbursable costs
    shall include the actual costs of rights of way or easements, construction and
    installation costs, engineering and design fees, administrative costs, incidental fees,
    expenses and charges, including but not limited to capitalized interest required to
    complete the improvements (the “Reimbursable Costs”). The Reimbursable Costs
    shall be increased annually by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the
    Consumer Price Index (CPI-U, all items) of the United States or its successor
    indicator (“CPI”) over the preceding years.

    No party developing property outside of the Project shall be entitled to
    connect to or otherwise utilize the Saddleback infrastructure improvements
    (whether dedicated to the County, owned by a third party entity, or owned
    by Saddleback) unless such parties are authorized by the County to connect
    to or otherwise utilize such improvements (an “Authorized Connection”).
    The County shall impose as a condition of approval on any proposed
    development requiring an Authorized Connection that such development
    immediately pay to Saddleback the Reimbursable Costs applicable to the
    infrastructure improvements being utilized by said development. The
    parties agree that the Reimbursable Costs are designed to reimburse
    Saddleback for Saddleback’s obligation to fund such infrastructure
    improvements and the high cost and risk involved in doing so. The pro rata
    share of a development requiring an Authorized Connection shall be
    calculated by the County at the time the Authorized Connection is approved
    (utilizing an “equivalent residential connection” or similar standard for
    commercial, industrial, and residential development) and shall be subject
    to the written approval of Saddleback, which approval shall not be
    unreasonably withheld.
    ii. No party developing property outside of the Project shall be granted an
    Authorized Connection to utilize any of the Saddleback infrastructure
    improvements that are immediately adjacent to the developing property
    unless said property owner reimburses Saddleback for all of the
    Reimbursable Costs associated with the infrastructure which actually
    borders said property and provides a reasonable benefit to said property.
    In the event a developing property consists of the property which fronts
    only one side of a road, that party shall be required to pay all Reimbursable
    Costs associated with one half of the roadway and other improvements.

  4. We moved in Tooele County about a year ago.
    I’ve hear several different ways to improve traffic. What I don’t understand is that these traffic changes should have been in the works many years ago. The County is dragging their feet. Besides Sheeplane cutoff, they could make even another cutoff East of Sheeplane, a four lane highway. Make it to go down to the South end of Tooele City. There’s no housing, in the way and seems a lot less expensive.
    The other is to improve Middle Canyon going up over into Butterfield Canyon and out into the Salt Lake Valley.

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