The I-15 Reconstruction Project involved the rebuilding and widening of a deteriorated, congested 17 mile stretch of Interstate 15, running through Salt Lake City. The project was necessary to accommodate the rapid growth the region was experiencing, much of which was due to in-migration from California.
Project Type:Widening Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:77,588 Length (mi):17.00
Economic Distress:1.26 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):1343 Population Growth Rate (%):1.60
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.82 Market Size:589,457 Airport Travel Distance:17.4333 Topography:21
Region:Rocky Mountain / Far West State:UT County:County
City:Salt Lake City Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:Salt Lake City
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:40.748926 / -111.908860
Initial Study Date:1995 Post Constr. Study Date:2006
Constr. Start Date:1996 Constr. End Date:2001
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2001 Planned Cost (YOE $):1,300,000,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):1,520,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):2,125,418,007
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||386.57||270.60||657.17|
|Output (in $M's)||1172.92||821.04||1993.96|
The $1.5 billion project I-15 Reconstruction Project involved the rebuilding and widening of a deteriorated, congested 17 mile stretch of Interstate 15, running through Salt Lake City. The project was necessary to accommodate the rapid growth the region was experiencing, much of which was due to in-migration from California. State-of-the-art technology was used to keep the traffic moving during construction and to expedite the construction schedule in order to finish the project before the 2002 Winter Olympics. The new, expanded section of highway has increased peak hour freeway speeds by 20% and has decreased freeway delay by 36% The impact of this improved efficiency is estimated to be 7,500 new jobs.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
I-15 runs north-south through the State of Utah for over 400 miles. Utah's I-15 corridor is a vital link in the West Central NAFTA corridor that connects Highway 1 in Mexico's Baja Peninsula with the TransCanada in Alberta. Since 70% of Utah's population lives within a 70 mile radius of the highway, I-15 is the main transportation artery for in-state commercial, commuter, and personal travel.
I-15 intersects I-80, which runs west through Nevada and east through Wyoming. It intersects I-215, which forms a 270 degree loop around the city. Salt Lake City's rapidly growing International Airport is 7 miles directly west of downtown, and annually serves 22 million passengers on 13 airlines and 550 million tons of cargo.
Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railways offer freight service throughout Utah. The state's railroad lines all converge in the Salt Lake-Ogden area, making it a convenient hub and switching station for destinations across the country. Rail service connects Utah to sea ports in Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, and Seattle, as well as other cities.1
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The I-15 reconstruction project traversed Salt Lake City as well as the suburban cities of Murray, Sandy, and Midvale. The Salt Lake City metropolitan area grew by an annual average of .53% from 1995-2006, while Salt Lake County's population grew by 2% per year during that period. Construction, warehousing, pharmaceutical, life sciences, software, and recreation are the county's main industries. There have been many start ups that have received funding and support through the Technology Transfer department at the University of Utah.
The Olympics drew international attention to the region, and Salt Lake City's quality of life attracts many retirees to the area. Much of the County's population growth is due to in-migration from other regions, most notably California. In 2008, over 84,000 people immigrated in to Utah. Salt Lake County has also grown as more people move to the area because of affordable housing, access to recreation, and its mild climate. Some of this growth is due to the number of young families moving into the state, and the high birth rate in the region. These trends are leading to an increase in a young labor pool for the region's businesses.
Despite any temporary negative impacts on sales during construction, sales Utah County grew from $43 billion in 1997 to $98 billion in 2006. Tax revenues in Salt Lake have risen from $91 million in 1995 to $143 million in 2006. Both economic growth and decreased travel time have led to increased property values. The median home value in Salt Lake City in 2007 was $241,000 compared to a state median value of $218,000.
Utah and Salt Lake County continually have unemployment rates lower than the national average, which indicate strong economic activity. Currently, Utah has an unemployment rate of 5.2% (2009), compared to the national unemployment rate of 8.9%. Job growth has also been significant in Salt Lake County, increasing from 562,008 in 1995 to 726,438 in 2006.
The I-15 reconstruction took place on I-15 from 600 North to 10600 South, approximately 27 kilometers of urban interstate which is within the boundaries of Salt Lake County and runs through the cites of Salt Lake City, Murray, Midvale, and Sandy. Despite the popular belief that I-15 was built for the Olympics, it had been part of the region's Long Range Transportation plan before many years. However, with the selection of Salt Lake City to host the games, the goal became to complete the highway a year before the games began in 2002.
The primary reason for re-building I-15 was because of its deteriorating physical condition. The highway was not expected to require major renovations or repairs until the mid 1980's; however over-utilization and prolonged use due to a high population growth made renovation a necessity. At certain overpasses (over rail road tracks), rail road ties were supporting I-15. In addition to structural improvements, the highway also needed additional capacity to accommodate future growth forecasts.
Typically, a project of this magnitude takes between 9-11 years. Surveys conducted by Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) indicated that the public was willing to incur greater inconvenience to complete the project in a shorter period of time. Using a Design-Build strategy, the project was shortened to 3.5 years and millions of dollars were saved.
The I-15 widening and re-construction was initiated by UDOT in 1996, with funding the newly established by the Centennial Highway Fund, created by the Utah legislature to address unfunded transportation needs across the state. The project consisted of widening I-15 from 3 to 5 lanes (including an HOV lane), demolishing and rebuilding 142 bridges, 3 interchanges, 8 Single Point Urban Interchanges, 34 over-crossings, and 3 under-crossings.
According to the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, "transportation is the most important economic issue for Utah." Businesses and local government leaders in Salt Lake County recognize that congestion is a major barrier to growth and can inhibit companies moving to the area.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
With constantly changing detours, and other construction activity, there was a high priority on maintaining good public relations with the community to avert any problems. To enhance communication and inform drivers with new information, a new traffic signal system called Commuter link was implemented to monitor traffic flow among a variety of agencies and communicate conditions to travelers so they can make informed transportation decisions. In order to connect CCTV cameras, electronic signs, volume sensors, and traffic speed to the Traffic Operation Center, contractors put fiber optic lines into the highway to speed the flow of communication. I-15 is one of the few highways to have this technology feature. Commuter link has been credited with increasing peak-hour freeway speeds by 20% and reduce freeway delays, traffic signal stops, and intersection delays by 36%, 15%, and 27%, respectively. It is projected to save Utahans more than $100 million each year by reducing freeway delays, traffic signal stops, and intersection delays
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The re-construction of I-15 significantly reduced congestion, increased capacity, and improved safety, which is believed to have had a strong impact on the economic development on Salt Lake County and Utah. Based on interviews and a comparison analysis, we estimate that the number of jobs created by the re-construction of I-15 is 7,500.
The I-15 re-construction had a temporary deleterious effect on retail sales during construction but sales have returned to preconstruction levels. Because of the project, growth into suburban areas accelerated. In the past 5-10 years, distribution, manufacturing, and warehousing firms have expanded on the west side of Salt Lake City with over 70 million square feet of space, including 12 million square feet of office space. The City focused planning and development on commercial growth and limited residential growth. Of the businesses in the industrial/warehousing sector, roughly half already existed in the corridor and the remainder located or relocated there after the reconstruction was completed. Salt Lake City is becoming western regional transportation hub, a "cross roads of the west", and rail transportation is increasingly being used.
Businesses recognized the value the I-15 renovation to their businesses and in 2006 voted with the local community in support of a .25% increase in sales tax to pay for additional transit and road renovation/construction2. Over $750,000 was raised in 10 days to support the passing of this proposition
In terms of land use, with close proximity and access to I-15, Sandy, UT is marketing itself as an alternative business location to escape the hassles of SLC.
Cementations indicated that they located their operations in Sandy because of it geographic proximity to clients and also the educated labor force. When asked about the influence of the I-15 reconstruction, they responded that it was not a major factor but could have had a negative influence on their decision has congestion remained without the renovation. IHC has several hospitals and clinics in the Sandy area and did cite the accessibility of both the I-15 highway and public transportation as factors in their site selection process.
Population growth in Utah has been at record pace as recreation, job growth, and affordable housing has attracted many new residents to Utah and the Salt Lake region. To accommodate this growth, Salt Lake County has expanded TRAX, its fixed guideway transit system, which first opened in 1999. Since then ridership has been more than double the originally projected forecasts.
The Olympics had a strong influence on the local economy, which has continued to be felt even after the conclusion of the games. Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce stated that the city is now on course to 'generate over $2.5 billion of economic growth -- all because of the Olympics. A spokesperson for nearby Park City Mountain Resort, states that because of the Olympics the ski industry here has experienced over 12 percent growth since 2002.
Wasatch Front Regional Council (MPO)
SLC Chamber of Commerce
City of Salt Lake
East Central WI Regional Planning District
City of Menasha
Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce
Case Study Developed by Economic Development Research Group, Inc.