Southwest of Salt Lake City, the communities of Kearns, Taylorsville, West and South Jordan are home to around 250,000 people, making it a major population center in the Salt Lake Valley. The communities are also gateways to expected development farther west in Herriman and Eagle Mountain.
Other than growth, the thing these communities have in common is a heavy reliance on the Bangerter Highway. The roughly 25-mile-long, north-south road runs parallel to Interstate 15 to the east and stretches from Salt Lake International Airport on the north end to an intersection with I-15 on the south.
Adan Carrillo, a community relations spokesman for the Utah Dept. of Transportation, says studies on improving traffic flow on the highway had been under way since 2005.
"We are always looking for ways to improve mobility and safety, and Bangerter Highway has become increasingly important to people in that part of the valley, and for expected future growth," he says.
The studies pointed to several problem areas along the highway. They were bid as separate projects, but all were corrected using innovative approaches. Carrillo says the department's engineering team hopes to improve mobility on Bangerter and several of its heavily congested crossroads—5400, 6200, 7000 and 7800 South—with two solutions that are new to the state: continuous flow intersections, or CFIs, and signalized flex-lanes.
UDOT's studies on how to increase mobility on 6200, 7000 and 7800 South, near the popular Jordan Landing Shopping Center, pointed to the increased use of CFIs, says UDOT engineer Matt Zundell. A CFI takes the left-turn lanes from two opposing streets and moves them several hundred feet down the road. It creates two dedicated left-turn lanes and allows traffic to flow through an intersection longer without the conflict of cars waiting in the intersection to turn left.
"We did our first CFI in 2005-06, further north on Bangerter at 3500 South, and we had success with that," Zundell says. "We determined that using CFIs was the best way to relieve the backups at 6200 and 7000. It would give us more green (light) time for east-west movement. We also knew we wanted a grade-separated interchange on 7800. That is one of the busiest intersections in the state."
Draper, Utah-based Ralph L. Wadsworth design-builders was awarded the $49-million contract and began work in early 2011. Work on the CFIs at 6200 and 7000 South was carried out almost simultaneously and was nearly complete before crews began moving earth and preparing to build the grade-separated structure at 7800 South.
In addition to the CFI at 7000, crews extended the pedestrian overpass to access the Jordan Landing Shopping Center. A similar pedestrian overpass was replaced just south of 7800 to allow access to neighborhoods and a school on the east side of the intersection. The pedestrian bridge at 7800 was saved and re-used at a nearby project on Utah-111.