Utah governor OK funds for roads, study

| 3/14/2007

The Utah Department of Transportation is in line to receive a hefty infusion of money, thanks to lawmakers' endorsement of a $510 million budget increase for the agency.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has signed three bills in the past few days to comprise the bulk of finances for road and bridge work.

The first bill directs $90 million annually from the state's general fund sales tax revenues to a new highway fund. The new law, previously HB314, also allows for $1 billion in construction bonding.

The bonding option is intended to help reduce congestion by enhancing and fixing roads throughout the state, the Deseret Morning News reported. Projects that won't see any of the money include the Mountain View Corridor and reconstruction of Interstate 95 in Utah County.

Another bill - HB158 - authorizes the state to issue a $300 million bond to buy land for Mountain View in Salt Lake County. The corridor is a proposed highway that would stretch 35 miles from Interstate 80 in Salt Lake County to the Pleasant Grove Interchange in Utah County. The bond issue is intended to save the state millions in future construction costs.

To foot the bill for the bond, more than $30 million in tax dollars will be rerouted from Salt Lake County. The revenue will come from a $10 increase in vehicle registration fees that county voters approved a year ago. Money also will come from two sales tax increases to pay for highway projects.

One other bill of note signed by the governor allots $3.5 million to UDOT to study east-west transportation in Salt Lake and other urban counties throughout the state.

The new law, previously HB108, is intended to help the agency identify different improvements to traffic routes, as well as possible construction of a new freeway, the Morning News reported.