After more than 15 years of preparing, planning and working up the construction food chain, Orem’s 1600 North is now on the books to be widened.
The widening will be from State Street to Interstate 15, just about 1 mile. The road is classified as an important arterial on the Utah Department of Transportation’s Functional Classification Map.
The Orem City Council, in a resolution on Oct. 29, approved transferring ownership of that portion of the road to UDOT. The main reason for the transfer was the lack of finances the city needed to improve the road and the great need for it to be done now, over the next few years, which Orem could not do.
After discussion, the council found it in the best interest of the city to pass the ownership transfer resolution. It was a unanimous vote.
There are 28,000 trips a day on that portion of road that has only one lane going each way. The road will go from two lanes to five lanes; two going each way with a middle turn lane.
“It’s taken quite a few years in a row to get money moving ahead,” said Sam Kelly, Orem city engineer. “It will take $20-$30 million to see it widened. The Utah Department of Transportation realized they needed to be more proactive in Utah County.”
Mountainland Association of Governments has already given $4 million for the 1600 North project and that money will stay with the project as it transfers ownership to UDOT.
Kelly said UDOT needs to grow the road grid along the Wasatch Front. In Utah County, that means more east-west connector roads.
“A year ago we met with folks living along the corridor, they saw the need,” Kelly said.
While there were three options on widening, the safest and best option was to purchase homes. Five homes have already been purchased from willing sellers at fair market value. Those homes will be torn down for the widening.
According to Kelly, this portion of the 1600 North corridor is not the only project that needs attention from UDOT. He says Orem’s Center Street between I-15 and Geneva Road also needs to be widened as it carries great loads of east-west traffic from Orem and Vineyard.
“I’d like to move forward with Center Street,” Kelly said. “Improving the interchange may also be a reality.”
Kelly added the road would be widened to seven lanes. Three on each side and a middle turning lane.