LAYTON — A $28 million upgrade of Hill Field Road and the Hill Field Road and Interstate 15 interchange, is expected to help Layton remain in the economic driver’s seat when it comes to sales tax revenues for years to come.
The two-phased “Layton Improved,” a Layton city and Utah Department of Transportation project, is expected to alleviate heavy traffic collecting around the Layton Hills Mall during peak driving times, preventing the congestion from being a deterrent to those looking to shop in Layton.
On June 10, Layton city staff, along with area business owners and UDOT staff, kicked off the much-anticipated Layton Improved project, which has been two years in the planning.
“This is really needed in our area. Layton is one of the largest economic engines north of Salt Lake City. Transportation is a part of that,” Layton Mayor Bob Stevenson said.
In 2014, Layton had $1.34 billion in taxable sales, according to Economic Development Manager Kent G. Andersen.
In comparison, Farmington, with Station Park, had about $299 million in taxable sales that same year, according to the Utah State Tax Commission.
With Hill Field Road being a connector to the south gate of Hill Air Force Base, and the base to soon be growing its job numbers with the introduction of the F-35s to the base, Stevenson said, it is important for Hill Field Road to handle those peak flows of traffic congestion.
In 2014, it was estimated the base provided $3.3 billion in economic impact, according to the base’s economic impact statement.
“It’s a big deal. When you can put it in context like that,” Andersen said of the dollar figures at stake.
“Heavy traffic near the Hill Field Road interchange typically requires about 10 minutes to drive 1/2-mile from Main Street to Layton Hills Mall, with cars backing up onto the freeway,” UDOT spokesman John Gleason reported in a provided fact sheet.
To alleviate that congestion, the first phase of the Layton Improved project will be to add new ThrU turn intersections on Hill Field Road and Main Street and Gordon Avenue near the mall, Gleason said.
Construction on that particular phase is expected to begin June 21 and is scheduled for completion in 90 days, Gleason said.
The second phase of the project, much more detailed, will involve a “single-point” urban interchange constructed at the Hill Field Road interchange on I-15. On the single-point urban interchanges, all traffic from the off- and on-ramps, as well as the cross street (Hill Field Road), is controlled by a single traffic signal. This design improves traffic flow and enhances safety for drivers.
The interchange will be completed during the 2016 construction season.
But the east-west Hill Field Road corridor is not the only major east-west arterial currently under construction in the area.
The widening of a 1.2 mile stretch of Antelope Drive is also underway. That project, at a cost of $7.9 million, is to be completed by the end of June, according to UDOT officials.
UDOT crews are also currently working on repaving a two-mile stretch of State Road193 from State Street in Clearfield to Hill Field Road in Layton. That project, at a cost of $3.8 million, is expected to be completed this fall. State Route 193 runs along the north border of Layton and south border of Clearfield.
To help alleviate disruption, most of the work to be performed within the Hill Field Road corridor, when involving the addition of the ThrU Turns, will take place at night.
“The majority of lane closures are scheduled at night as part of UDOT’s efforts to work as effectively as possible to minimize delays during construction,” Gleason said.
“When complete, drivers will save an average of five minutes off their daily commute,” he said.
Layton Hills Mall General Manager Linda Kelley said she is pleased to hear most of the road work will be occurring during the nighttime hours, which should reduce the disruption of traffic trying to access the mall and surrounding businesses.
Having the first phase of the project complete within 90 days should also prevent the traffic work from interfering with holiday traffic, Kelley said.
But according to city officials, the time had come to address the traffic collecting around the mall.
“The option to do nothing is not an option,” Layton City Community and Economic Development Director Bill Wright said.