TESTIMONY OF REP. JAMES V. HANSEN BEFORE THE TRANSPORTATION SUBCOMITTEE OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE APRIL 26, 1990 Mr. Chairman, in addition to my oral presentation before the committee, I appreciate the opportunity I have to submit this written statement for the committee record. On behalf of the constituents of the First District of Utah I am asking along with leaders from the state of Utah for $85,000,000 for the completion of upgrading U.S. 89 to a limited access expressway design. The reasons that we have come before the committee to seek funding for U.S. 89, between Burke Lane in Farmington, Utah, and Harrison Boulevard in Weber County, Utah, are that the highway is excessively dangerous, the volume of traffic is too large for the size of the highway, and the local and state governments simply can/t afford to pay for the upgrade of U.S. 89. U.S. 89 is located along the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of Utah. It functions as a transportation link between Salt Lake city, Ogden, Hill Air Force Base, and the surrounding area. It serves both local and commuter traffic. It is a designated route connecting Interstates 84 and 15 and is one of the only two north/south routes through Weber and north Davis Counties.
As a young boy growing up in the area, I remember riding my bicycle up this road. The area was little more than fruit orchards and rural farm land. Since that time, the area surrounding the road has developed into one of Utah's fastest growinq population centers. Traffic has increased along the corridor approximately 135 percent since 1970. This traffic increase has resulted from both an increase in commuter traffic on U.S. 89 and increased local traffic traveling on and across the corridor. Over twenty years ago, the emerging safety and conqestion problems of U.S. 89 were recognized, and the state of utah petitioned for federal money to develop the road into an interstate. The application was not approved because, at that time, the population and the traffic volumes on the road did not meet Federal Highway Administration standards.
Since the recognition of the problem in the 1960's, the population and traffic volumes have increased to make U.S. 89 one of the most dangerous roads in the state. Before being elected to Congress, I served as an independent insurance agent in the area, and U.S. 89 was always where I paid the most out to those injured on U.S. 89. I can't begin to enumerate on the number of deaths and serious accidents I had to attend to along this twelve mile stretch of road. As I speak to my constituents at home and in conversing with my neighbors, I don't know of anyone who has not had a personal friend or relative injured or killed because of U.S. 89. To outline the situation, U.S. 89 divides the communities of Farmington, Fruit Heights, Kaysville, and Layton. The portions of these cities surrounding the highway are completely residential. Over 125 streets and private drives have access to the highway. Presently, we have cars turning left on and off of the road, and, with no controlled access, you can ima9ine the safety implications. While the number of accidents are not abnormal for this type of road,
the heavy congestion and cross traffic have caused the number of fatalities to be more than four times the normal rate. To add to the problem, the highway is a major connection route for trucks and automobile traffic between Interstate 84 and Interstate 15. There exists an alternate route to using Interstate 84, but the severe 6% grades that exist on I-80 through Parley's Canyon make using I-84 the logical route. Heavy truck use has been a major safety problem. Requiring a truck going 55 mph to stop for a car turninq left onto the highway is an obvious threat to safety. At the expense of over $100,000, a study was conducted to find a solution to the problem. The Wasatch Front Regional Council and the Utah Department of Transportation initiated the U.S. 89 Corridor study in response to the operational and safety issues of the
Corridor. The study included a comprehensive analysis of the existing and future travel demands along U.S. 89 and concluded that the best solution is a limited access expressway design. Throughout the course of the study, local and state opinion has been sought. I am happy to say that at every level we have received support for the limited access expressway design. All local leaders responsible for cities along the corridor have signed a petition of support. In addition, Governor Norman Bangerter, Senator Orrin Hatch, and Senator Jake Garn have expressed their strong support for the highway. According to other additional studies that have been conducted, the cost for the federal government to solve the problem by establishing an interstate would cost upwards of $110,000,000. The estimated cost for the limited access
expressway design is $85,000,000. Presently, the state of Utah simply lacks the ability to fund the highway. The Utah State Department of Transportation estimates that given its present level of funding, it would take well over 15 years to finish the project. The safety and congestion problems continue to mount, and, if we do not move quickly, we will be faced with further loss of life. Mr. Chairman, in conclusion I would like to reiterate my support for the effort of the state of Utah to obtain $85 million to upgrade U.S. 89 in utah. The safety
and congestion problems have become enormous and with a growing population the situation will only get worse. Thank you again for permitting this testimony.
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