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Sandy Journal

Expansion of 9000 South underway

Aug 23, 2018 04:41PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Large metal sheets acting as bridges are the only ways for homeowners along 9000 South to leave their homes. (Justin Adams | Sandy Journal)

By Justin Adams | j.adams@mycityjournals.com           

Many Sandy residents rely on Barbara Harrington. She watches multiple children for her neighbors during the day, up to a dozen or more at a time. But she might have to stop next year because of construction on the road she lives on. 

Harrington remembers moving into her small Sandy home on 9000 East in 1976. At that time, the road had only two lanes. In the intervening years it has grown to five lanes and is currently being expanded to seven.

The Utah Department of Transportation project to expand the road between State Street and 700 East began in July. The first phase will tackle the north side of the road between State Street and 300 East and the south side between 300 East and 700 East. After each is completed, crews will switch to the opposite side of the road. 

According to the UDOT website, two lanes of traffic in each direction remain open so the impact to commuters is minimal. Homeowners, however, are not so lucky. 

Because the project also includes improvements to utilities along the corridor (light, gas, power, storm drain), a large and lengthy ditch has been dug, separating homeowners’ driveways from the road. There is no sidewalk for them to walk down the street and the only way to get across the ditch is by driving over a large sheet of metal which acts as a makeshift bridge. 

“It is what it is. There’s not anything we can do about it,” said Harrington. “I just worry about how my families will get in and out of here.” 

Harrington, who regularly watches her neighbors’ children during the day, worries that the construction for her section of the street, which is part of the second phase, will make it not only extremely difficult, but also unsafe to continue watching the children. 

The stated goal of the project, per the UDOT website, is to “provide better east-west connectivity, improve traffic flow, and enhance safety.” However, many Sandy residents feel that traffic problems in the area aren’t a result of the number of lanes, so adding two more won’t make that much of a difference. 

At an informational community open house hosted by UDOT last fall, residents pointed to the TRAX line as well as poorly synced traffic lights as the reason for congestion along 9000 South.

“I don’t really understand what this project is going to solve,” said Scott Cowdell, a Sandy city council member at the time.

That sentiment was shared by Harrington. “I don’t think the extra lanes will make that much of a difference,” she said. “If they would just sync the lights better the traffic would flow.” 

At the open house, a UDOT representative explained that the project isn’t meant to alleviate a traffic problem that currently exists, but to prevent future problems as the population in the valley continues to grow.

The project has a budget of $13.6 million, $13.3 million of which is coming from federal funding. The state of Utah is contributing $250,000, while local taxpayers are on the hook for $57,000. The estimated completion date is June 2019.