West Side community voices concerns over I-15 expansion
SALT LAKE CITY — The West Side community came together Thursday night at the Utah State Fair Park to raise their concerns with the Utah Department of Transportation about the I-15 expansion between Farmington and 400 South in Salt Lake.
West Side concerns
The residents’ major fears lie around UDOT not hearing their concerns. The community raised their worries about the expansion causing negative environmental impacts and further isolation from Salt Lake City.
“The pollution is already happening on the Westside, especially with the inland port it’s horrible,” Westside resident Qiru Cantu told KSL adding, “The air quality- I know a lot of people, me included, have a lot of breathing problems like asthma.”
But the state has already appropriated $1.6 billion for the development.
“It just feels like a lot of these plans were made years ago and now we are playing catch up.”
Cantu is also concerned that the community’s voice won’t count in the final decision.
“I’ve been to other meetings here and it felt very patronizing,” Qiru explained. “The people didn’t have an alternative plan, and we could only give comments.”
Chair of the Fairpark Council Nigel Swaby read an open letter to the room and suggested the I-15 go underground.
“We’ve already been marginalized as a community with all three freeways within our area,” he said. “Now they want to expand and take away additional homes and businesses? That’s completely unfair.”
UDOT’s take on the freeway expansion
UDOT’S Project Manager Tiffany Pocock tried to assure the West Side community on Thursday.
Pocock said that the rumors about knocking down houses were a long way from the state’s mind.
“The state doesn’t have an interest in purchasing homes or commercial properties either. And that’s the refinement that we’ll do from here on out is to be respectful of the communities that we’re working with,” Pocock said.
“What I do want to let the community know is that we have heard them, and we know that there are concerns. And so for us moving forward, we’ll take that into account,”
But, Pocock said the expansion would potentially move forward regardless of community disapproval. “While this feedback is very helpful for us to navigate the refinement that we’re about to do, comments are not considered a vote.”
And, Pocock said, there are economic benefits to the expansion.
“I-15 is an important freight corridor that goes all the way from Canada down to Mexico and making sure that I-15 can move goods and services efficiently is great for our current strong economy.”
Additionally, Pocock said that UDOT is also looking at a “holistic view of the corridor.”
That approach would look at interchanges and how pedestrians and cyclists can access and cross I-15.
How UDOT approaches the community’s concerns will be seen in the draft phase that UDOT plans to present in the fall of 2023.
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