GOVERNMENT

Utah lawmakers grapple with how to fund over $1.1 billion in infrastructure requests

Feb 15, 2021, 10:51 AM
assault utah transit authority utah infrastructure requests include transportation needs...
Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner. File Photo: Sam Penrod, KSL TV

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Utah legislative leaders say they have some major funding decisions on the horizon. It comes as they face over $1.1 billion in infrastructure requests alone.

How to pay over $1.1 billion in requests

The more than $1.1 billion in one-time requests come from the Utah legislature’s Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. 

Included on the long list of priority requests is $150 million to double-track FrontRunner. That’s an item Governor Spencer Cox’s budget recommended allocating $350 million.

Another priority request is $50 million to address traffic gridlock in the Wasatch canyons. Specifically, it could include widening Wasatch Boulevard, adding avalanche snow sheds and potentially building a gondola up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Also, the committee has prioritized $6 million to fund rapid electric vehicle charging stations across rural Utah.

To this point, House Speaker Brad Wilson has characterized the roughly $1.1 billion price tag as “mind-boggling.”

“I’ll tell you what, we are over subscribed,” Wilson told reporters on Friday.

Possible solutions for Utah infrastructure needs

According to state leaders, bonding could be one possible way to meet the hefty requests.

“We are in talks with the Senate right now about bonding, and whether or not we will be bonding for infrastructure this year,” Wilson said.

One component that complicates matters is the fact that lawmakers have yet to receive updated revenue estimates. The most recent estimates indicated roughly $90 million of ongoing money and nearly $1 billion in one-time money available for appropriation.

“Listen, if we go back and just put back in the money we took out of buildings that we cut out of the budget last year, that’s $200 million,” said Wilson. “To double-track FrontRunner is another $350 million. We’ve got a long, long list of transportation projects that need to be built across the state. Then you’ve got a few regional economic drivers, whether it’s the (Utah Inland Port Authority) or the Point of the Mountain Authority that probably warrants state investment.”

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Utah lawmakers grapple with how to fund over $1.1 billion in infrastructure requests