Alternatives for U.S. Highway 6 Considered by UDOT
When considering changes to roadways, the Utah Department of Transportations has to look at all the angles. U.S. Highway 6 is no different.
During the years, UDOT has had to consider many alternatives to correct the imperfections of the road and to make it safer for people to drive on.
Often money has dictated the direction UDOT officials were able to go. In the last year, however, the corridor has received its own managing engineer as well as the determination by the agency that the travel space between Spanish Fork and Interstate 70 should be considered as a whole rather than a piece-meal project.
This spring, UDOT will be releasing a draft environmental impact statement on the corridor that will take into account the scoping meetings and the study the department has conducted and made concerning the road.
During the last several months, a large number of alternatives have been considered by the treansportation department in coming up with ways to improve the road and create a safe by-way that will handle the traffic flow properly.
The alternatives have come in various forms.
The first group of alternatives considered by the transportation department was to do relatively nothing more to the road.
The approach has been labeled "no-build alternatives."
Under this scenario improvements would have been limited to better signage, the addition of some median and shoulder barriers and improved striping on the roadway. Also within these alternatives were some ideas that had little to do with road construction, but in effect could change the very nature of the road by altering traffic flow in one way or another.
Those alternatives included reducing or eliminating large truck traffic over the highway, reducing the speed limits, using mass transit systems, or a combination of all or part of the above.
When studied however, each of these no-build alternatives were discounted.
The idea of reducing or eliminating truck traffic from the road would mean that state law would have to be revised to allow for such a move. The concept was deemed unrealistic for a number of reasons, ranging from political to economic.
UDOT also found that reducing the speed limit would not improve safety, largely because enforcing any new limit would be as difficult or more difficult than it is to enforce the speed that is on the road now. Slower speeds could also create more congestion on the highway at times.
Mass transit was another alternative, but with a bus service and Amtrak are already available, there has been little impact on the traffic in the corridor.
It was also decided that any or all combinations of the no build alternatives would not work either in terms of relieving congestion or improving safety.
The alternatives which are still being considered include major reconstruction of the road either by adding more passing lanes or by building a four lane highway the entire length of the corridor.
The possibilities are now being examined further and will require an environmental impact statement in order to be moved forward.
If either of the two alternatives were inacted, construction would take place over the next decade.
However, UDOT also had to consider doing absolutely nothing. This consideration was required by the National Environmental Protection Act which is the main reason an environmental impact statement has to be completed. This alternative was deemed inappropriate for the purpose of the project.
Under the passing lanes alternative, the agency is presently looking at the following ideas.
Four lane sections that could be constructed to provide vehicles safe areas to pass slower moving vehicles.
At other segments of the highway, vehicles would use two or three lanes as needed to improve the congestion and safety.
Center medians would be added to portions of the corridor where it was deemed necessary.
The four lane alternative would provide for the design and addition of various kinds of median barriers along much of the corridor and would also provide the entire length with at least four lanes.