UtahRails.net

(This page printed from UtahRails.net, Copyright 2000-2016 Don Strack)

UtahRails Highways

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on March 23, 2016.

Overview

Railroads and roads developed side by side throughout Utah's history. Roads came first, in the form of trails used by travelers, the Pony Express and various stagecoach companies. Then came county roads, administered and maintained by local county governments. Many of the early pioneering railroads were built paralleling a selected county road through the populated areas of the territory, and later the state.

One of the first county roads was actually a toll road built by Parley Pratt through what soon became Parleys Canyon, east of Salt Lake City. When Utah Central was built in 1869, it paralleled the county road between Salt Lake City and Ogden through each of the intermediate cities and towns of Roy, Clearfield (Syracuse Junction), Layton, Kaysville, Farmington, and Bountiful.

By the 1920s, the state's railroad network was essentially finalized, with little growth afterward. But the network of roads and highways grew rapidly as public funds were used to expand the network and improve the roads themselves. Paving started in the 1920s for the major roads, and improvements came quickly as the federal Transportation Act of 1920 began being used to improve the roads across the nation. The Federal Highway System (later the National Highway System, or NHS) came into existence with the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1925, as a response to the confusion created by the 250 or so named highways, such as the Lincoln Highway or the National Old Trails Highway.

(Read the Wikipedia article about U. S. Numbered Highways -- with separate entries for the larger U. S. Routes in the nation)

(Read the Wikipedia article listing each of the numbered routes)

As a result of this act of 1925, in 1926 a standardized numbering system was adopted, with several designated routes within Utah. These routes include U. S. routes 6, 40, and 50, traversing the state east to west, and U. S. routes 89 and 91 traversing the state north to south. There were several spurs in Utah of the larger national routes, including U. S. Route 189 which paralleled several railroad routes.

Separating the Roads and the Railroads

As soon as there were roads crossing railroad tracks, there were grade crossing accidents, with trains running into automobiles, or autos running into trains.

Between 1920 and 1945, the Utah Department of Highways received aid from the U. S. government under the Transportaion Act of 1920 for the separation of highways and railroads.

List of Federal Aid Projects

Following is a list of federal grade separation projects in Utah.

Year
Approved
Location Description
1920 Ogden, Weber County Riverdale Road overhead crossing of UP tracks. First proposed in 1919. Federal funding became available in 1920, construction completed in 1924.
1924 Price, Carbon County U. S. 50 subway crossing of D&RGW tracks. Approved March 1924.
1930 Ogden, Weber County Original U.S. 91 (30th Street) overhead crossing of UP tracks. Approved July 1930.
1930 Thistle, Utah County

U.S. 50 at Thistle was moved to the east side of the railroad tracks, and a new 254-foot overhead crossing built to take the Sanpete traffic across the tracks. The new overhead crossing eliminated 11 track crossings at Thistle. (Mount Pleasant Pyramid, October 10, 1930)

The Thistle project was opened for traffic on October 1, 1931. (News Advocate, October 8, 1931)

1931 Lake Point Junction, Tooele County Alternate U.S. 40 overhead crossing of UP and WP tracks. New highway called Garfield Cut‑Off, feeding directly into west 2100 South. Approved 1931.
1932 Moark, Utah County U.S. 50 overhead crossing of D&RGW tracks at mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. Approved 1932.
1932 Colton, Carbon County U.S. 50 overhead crossing of D&RGW tracks east of Colton. Approved November 1932.
1934 Bountiful, Davis County U.S. 89/91 subway crossing of Bamberger tracks. The crossing is where the most intense highway traffic in the state, at 5,000 cars per day, crosses the most intense railroad traffic in the state, at 30 trains per day. Approved March 1934.
1935 Midvale, Salt Lake County U.S. 89/91 subway crossing of UP/D&RGW tracks at 7900 South. Approved March 1935.
1935 Brigham City, Box Elder County U.S. 30 subway crossing of UP and UIC tracks. Approved November 1935.
1936 Springville, Utah County U.S. 50 subway crossing of D&RGW tracks. Approved May 1936.
1936 Wanship, Summit County U.S. 189 overhead crossing of UP tracks. Approved October 1936.
1936 Garfield, Salt Lake County Garfield‑Saltair Highway overhead crossing of UP and WP tracks. Approved December 1936.
1936 Helper, Carbon County Janet Street subway crossing of D&RGW tracks. Approved December 1936.
1937 Provo, Utah County Center Street overhead crossing of UP and D&RGW tracks. 100% federal funding. Approved January 1937.
1937 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County Wasatch Boulevard overhead crossing of D&RGW tracks at mouth of Parleys Canyon, "Stillman Bridge". Approved September 1937.
1937 Pleasant Grove, Utah County U.S. 89/State Street subway crossing of UP tracks
1938 Hilltop, Sanpete County U.S. 89 overhead crossing of D&RGW tracks, near Milburn. Approved June 1938.
1938 Provo Canyon, Utah County U. S. 189 overhead crossing of D&RGW tracks at Deer Creek Dam and Reservoir. Approved June 1938.
1941 Altus, Summit County U.S. 40 subway crossing of D&RGW tracks near Parleys Summit. Approved February 1941.
1941 Clearfield and Layton, Davis County Hill Field access road subway crossings of Bamberger. Approved 1941.
1942 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County S.R. 201 (2100 South) overhead crossing of D&RGW tracks. Approved September 1942.
1942 (no location; north of Ogden) U.S. 91 overhead crossing of UP and UIC tracks. Approved 1942.
1945 Sunset, Davis County Ogden Arsenal Entrance Road subway crossing of Bamberger tracks. Approved May 1945.

Timeline of Federal Aid Projects

(Research completed in late July 1994)

1924
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct the viaduct for Riverdale Road over the south end of UP's Riverdale Yard in Ogden. First proposed in May 1919 with the costs being equally shared by the state and the railroad. In April 1920 the federal government was asked to assist in the construction. The federal government requested a 20 foot roadway, instead of an 18 foot roadway, and a 5 foot sidewalk, instead of a 4 foot sidewalk. Construction was delayed throughout 1921 and 1922. The bridge was finally completed in 1924. (Utah PSC #515)

March 27, 1924
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a subway under the D&RGW tracks at Price. Project No. FAP 24‑C Carbon County. (Utah PSC #659)

July 1930
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete bridge for U. S. Highway 91 over the UP's tracks at 30th Street in Ogden, replacing a wooden structure. (Utah PSC #1176)

(no date)
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overpass over the Union Pacific Railroad and the Western Pacific Railroad for a new state highway, called the Garfield Cut‑off. (Utah PSC #1263)

(no date)
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overpass bridge for U. S. Highway 50 over the D&RGW at Moark, at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. Project No. FAP 73‑F. (Utah PSC #1282)

November 9, 1932
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overpass bridge for U. S. Highway 50 over the D&RGW tracks near Colton. Project No. FAP 95‑D. (Utah PSC #1291)

March 2, 1934
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete subway for U. S. Highway 91 under the Bamberger Railroad
in south Bountiful (now the 2nd West crossing of 5th West). The crossing is where the most intense highway traffic in the state, at 5,000 cars per day, crosses the most intense railroad traffic in the state, at 30 trains per day. Bamberger calls the station "Parkins". (Utah PSC #1512)

March 25, 1935
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete subway for State Street under the UP and D&RGW tracks near Midvale. Project No. NRH 119‑H (1935). (Utah PSC #1725)

November 9, 1935
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete subway U. S. Highway 30 under the UP and UIC tracks, north of Brigham City. Project No. WPGH 38‑A (1936). (Utah PSC #1807)

May 25, 1936
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete subway for U. S. Highway 50 under the D&RGW tracks at Springville. Project No. NRH 37‑A. (Utah PSC #1828)

October 6, 1936
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct an overhead crossing for U. S. Highway 189 over the tracks of UP's Park City Branch at Wanship. Project No. WPGH 76‑E. (Utah PSC #1829)

December 22, 1936
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overpass bridge for the Garfield‑Saltair Highway over the tracks of LA&SL and WP. Project No. WPGM 201. (Utah PSC #1895)

December 30, 1936
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete subway for Janet Street under the tracks of D&RGW in Helper. Works Program Project No. WPGM 202. (Utah PSC #1872)

January 8, 1937
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overhead viaduct crossing for Center Street (State Highway 114) over the UP and D&RGW tracks in Provo. U. S. Works Program Grade Crossing Project No. WPGM 203. Using 100% federal funds. (Utah PSC #1871)

September 23, 1937
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overpass bridge for Wasatch Boulevard over the tracks of D&RGW, at the mouth of Parleys Canyon, to connect with U. S. Highway 40. Later called the Stillman Bridge. Works Program Project No. WPSO 197‑B, "Parley's Canyon Bridge". (Utah PSC #1933)

June 7, 1938
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overhead viaduct for U. S. Highway 89 over the tracks of D&RGW's Marysvale Branch at Hilltop. Federal Aid Grade Crossing Project No. FAGH 72‑G (FAP‑72). The road was gravel at the time. (Utah PSC #2074)

June 7, 1938
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overhead viaduct for U. S. Highway 189 over the tracks of D&RGW in Provo Canyon. Both the railroad and the highway have been relocated due to the construction of Deer Creek Dam and Reservoir. Federal Aid Grade Crossing Project No. FAGH 65‑C.   (Utah PSC #2075)

February 18, 1941
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete grade seperation bridge for the D&RGW's Park City Branch over U. S. Highway 40 at Altus. Project No. FAGH 49 (2) (3), "Altus Underpass". (Utah PSC #2446)

(no date)
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct underpass subways for the access roads to Hill Field, under the tracks of the Bamberger Railroad at Clearfield and Layton. (Utah PSC #2470 and 2471)

September 4, 1942
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overpass viaduct for 21st South (State Highway 201) over the tracks of D&RGW. 21st South is the main access road to the new Utah Ordnance Plant of the Remington Arms Company and the automobile traffic has increased greatly because of the war. Project No. AI‑FAP 218‑A (1), construction no. DA‑WI No.1 (1). (Utah PSC #2610)

November 17, 1942
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a level grade crossing for State Highway 68 over UP's Fairfield Branch, 3 miles south of Camp Williams. UP is operating 2 trains per week over the branch. (Utah PSC #2631)

(no date)
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to a concrete via duct overpass for U. S. Highway 91 over the UP and UIC tracks at Hot Springs. Federal Aid Project No. SN‑FAGH 214‑F. (Utah PSC #2768)

(no date)
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a level grade crossing for 8th North over the tracks of the Bamberger Railroad. Project No. FAGM 65‑A (1), FAP No. 165B. (Utah PSC #2809)

Also from Case #2809, following are the numbers for other projects in the vicinity:

May 2, 1945
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct underpass subway for the Ogden Arsenal Entrance Road under the Bamberger railroad at Sunset. Federal Access Road Project No. DA‑WR 156 (1). (Utah PSC #2832)

Castlegate Tunnel

(Research suggests that "Castlegate" was the name of the rock formation, and "Castle Gate" was the name of the railroad station and coal mine.)

The work of constructing the tunnel was begun in 1931, and it was removed during the reconstruction of the Castle Gate-Kyune road in 1964-1966.

The first highway (more like an improved dirt road) west from Price and Helper was the Midland Trail, completed in mid 1913. The route of the Midland Trail north and west of Price took it along side the D&RGW rail line to Helper and the Castlegate rock formation. From there the road headed north and east along Willow Creek to Emma Park, then west and north to Kyune, another station of the D&RGW. Westward from Kyune, the railroad and road paralleled each other to Colton and over Soldier Summit, then down Soldier Creek to Thistle, where Soldier Creek was joined by Thistle Creek, and the two became the Spanish Fork River. Between Colton on the east side of the summit, and Tucker on the west side, the Midland Trail was built largely on the original 1882 railroad roadbed abandoned by D&RGW in 1912 when the new joint line of D&RGW and Utah Railway was completed. At the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon, the railroad and road separated, with the railroad routed to Springville, and the Midland Trail routed to Spanish Fork. The road was "opened" in late July 1913, but improvements continued for several years, including widening, and the installation of bridges and culverts at strategic stream crossings.

June 2, 1913
Work on the Midland Trail west of Castle Gate started on Monday June 2, 1913. At the same time, other construction began across Emma Park to connect Kyune (Horse Creek) with Castle Gate by way of Willow Creek. (Carbon County News, June 5, 1913)

"In the early 1920s, the Midland Trail or the road from Spanish Fork to the Colorado line became part of the U.S. highway system. It became U.S. Highway 50. That designation by the United States Congress was more for political reasons, but in years to come would have a big effect on what happened with the road that ran through eastern Utah. During the time the report covered [1922-1932], little federal money was available for highway construction, even though the 1920s were a boom time in the United States. When the Depression hit in 1929, prospects for improving the road even looked worse." "During the 1920s, the only piece of road that had received concrete was a strip of the highway from Castle Gate up the canyon 2.18 miles to the old railroad stop of Rolapp. Other than that, all the projects had only been gravel." (Sun Advocate, February 5, 2002)

February 12, 1931
"The new road will leave the pavement just south of the bridge over the Price River and cut through the mountain on the left bank of the river. At a point about 400 feet from the end of the pavement, it will be necessary to make a 350 foot tunnel through a rock ledge. The road will continue along the mountain side to the tipple of the Castle Gate mine number three." (News Advocate, February 12, 1931)

April 2, 1931
"The Utah Construction company was awarded the bid on the Castlegate-Rolapp road project by the Utah State Road commission Friday." "The road will be 22 miles long..." (Castlegate to Soldier Summit) "The tunnel which is to be hewed through the cliff about three hundred feet beyond the end of the concrete will be 22 feet in the clear and 14 high and the floor will be surfaced with Portland cement seven inches thick, according to announcement made at the office of the state road commission." (News Advocate, April 2, 1931)

October 8, 1931
"ROLAPP CUTOFF TO OPEN NEXT WEEK; JOB COMPLETE -- New Thistle Project on U.S. 50 Opened October 1 -- The $180,000 Castlegate Rolapp highway which has been under construction for the past several months will be open to travel October 15, it was announced this week at the local state road commisson." "The project, which was built by the Utah Construction company, has been completed and the only delay at present is the time needed for the concrete in the tunnel to set. The entire crew has been moved off the job with the exception of a few men who are placing the protecting binder, or cable, along the edge of the road. (News Advocate, October 8, 1931)

September 3, 1960
The Utah Road Cmmission approved the route of a detour for U. S. Highway 50 and 6 to bypass the construction in Price Canyon. The route was from Castle Gate, eight miles along Willow Creek Canyon to the Bamberger monument, then eleven miles west across "Avintaquin" Park to Kyune. Surveyors were to begin work, with invitations to bid to follow after. The new road in Price Canyon would be safer for the 2400 cars that use it daily. (Deseret News, September 3, 1960)

May 22, 1961
A detour was to be constructed between Kyune and Castlegate, by way of the old Park Road and Willow Creek Canyon, avoiding construction work in Price Canyon as that part of U. S. 50 and 6 is improved, as part of a multi-million dollar project. (Daily Herald, May 22, 1961)

November 14, 1961
The detour for U. S. 50 and 6 was to cost $480,000, but the U. S. Bureau of Roads informed state road engineers that the federal agency would not participate in funding of the detour because the design and specifications indicated that the detour would wear out before the new road in the canyon was completed. The dilemma was solved when the state agreed to cover the additional costs of maintaining the detour beyond its projected service life, if the new highway is not yet completed. Invitations to bid for the detour were to be let very soon. The cost to reconstruct the road in Price Canyon was projected as $5 million. (Deseret News, November 14, 1961)

October 23, 1964
Miss Carbon of 1964 set off demolition charges on the morning of Friday, October 23, 1964 to officially begin the construction of the $4.1 million reconstruction of U.S. 50 and 6 in Price Canyon. The ceremony took place at the old State Highway Patrol weigh station at New Peerless. Two contracts had been awarded to H. E. Lowdermilk Construction of Englewood, Colorado, one for $1.9 million and the other for $2.18 million, "to build the important 9.2 mile section through the canyon." (Deseret News, October 22, 1964)

June 29, 1966
Traffic was allowed on the new Price Canyon highway in an unofficial opening. The highway was 92 percent complete, with a seal coat yet to be laid, along with striping, painting and placement of signs and guard rails. The cost was reported as $5 million, and construction time was shortened from five years to two years after highway funds were diverted from other projects. Barricades were removed, but the road was closed on occasion to allow completion of final projects. (Deseret News, June 29, 1966)

July 28, 1966 (Thursday)
"DEDICATION RITES OF CANYON ROAD SLATED FOR JULY 28 -- The official dedication and opening of the new Price Canyon Higway will be held on Thursday, July 28, according to a spokesman for the Price Chamber of Commerce. (Helper Journal, July 21, 1966)

"Highway Open In Canyon -- ... The mining camp of Royal was razed, one side of the natural formation of Castle Gate was blasted away and a 400-foot highway tunnel was blasted into a highway cut 280 feet deep through solid rock. ..." (Deseret News, July 29, 1966)

"Dedication Ceremony ... Under a blazing hot sun last Thursday, a crowd of approximately 300 witnessed the dedication of the new Price Canyon highway, the gateway from the north to southeastern Utah and the scenic splendors of the Canyonlands. ..." (Sun Advocate, August 4, 1966)

"Formal Opening of Price Canyon Road... Henry C. Helland, state director of highways, noted with regret that the famed Castle Gate rock formation had to be altered to make way for a wider highway. He expressed the hope that new scenic vantage points opened and the tunnel cut would compensate for the altered Castle Gate." (Sun Advocate, no date)

"Governor Rampton Heads Dignitaries ... This is the long-awaited Price Canyon highway - once referred to as the 'Rock of Gibralter' by state officials and route opponents, and the third alignment since the original road was developed through this canyon - The Midland Trail - which was opened July 17, 1913. The old Midland Trail was replaced by the second alignment which was started in 1927 with completion of the Castle Gate tunnel portion in 1932. (Sun Advocate, no date)

The new road in Price Canyon reduced travel time over the nine and a half mile segment from 20-25 minutes, down to just nine minutes. (Deseret News, July 29, 1966)

(Read the online Sun Advocate article, June 13, 2002)

(GenWeb, Carbon County)

Pulpit Rock At Echo

(First published in the UtahRails.net blog on September 4, 2010)

Pulpit Rock, near Echo, Utah, was removed in January and February 1937 by the Utah State Highway Department as part of the improvement of the Lincoln Highway (U. S. Highway 30-S). But it was the end of a long string of events surrounding the historical site. It was named for its appearance similar to that of a preacher's pulpit, but as early as 1897 there were stories that the name came from the myth that Brigham Young had delivered a sermon from the site in July 1847 as the pioneers into Utah. It was in 1897 that the myth was published as such, stating that Young was in fact too ill at the time to have delivered his supposed speech. (see Salt Lake Tribune, July 14, 1897)

In 1905 there were apparently plans to remove the entire Pulpit Rock formation. (see Deseret News, October 24, 1905) The plans were not implemented, and in April 1909 a Professor of Geology from the University of Utah pronounced the rock formation "quite stable." (see Utah Daily Chronicle, April 26, 1909)

Work on the new Echo Reservoir began in 1927-1928, and there were reports that the blasting for the dam construction, less than a mile away, had weakened the formation and made it unstable, forcing the removal its upper "pulpit" portion by Union Pacific in a move to protect its adjacent tracks.

In early December 1936 work began to remove the remaining lower portion to make way for a an improved U. S. Highway 30-S. The state highway department contracted with Wheelwright Construction Company for the work, during which Union Pacific re-routed its trains to the westbound tracks. With the removal of the remains of Pulpit Rock, the highway was lowered 21 feet to the level of the railroad tracks, eliminating a dangerous reverse curve for highway drivers. (Morgan County News, December 10, 1936)

In July 1928 Union Pacific began construction of a concrete underpass for the Lincoln Highway just east of Echo. Although not formally part of the Lincoln Highway, the location was where U. S. Highway 189 had its junction with U. S. 30-S and continued on through Coalville and Silver Creek Canyon to Silver Creek Junction where it connected with U. S. Highway 40. Highway 189 turns south and continues on to Provo by way of Heber and Provo canyon. Highway 40 continues west through Parleys Park and Parleys Canyon to Salt Lake City. The intent at Echo was to eliminate the dangerous grade crossing for Highway 189. The underpass was part of the work for the construction of Echo Dam and Reservoir and included a new fill and concrete culvert for the crossing of Echo Creek by UP's Park City Branch. (see Salt Lake Telegram, July 2, 1928)

Highway 189

(Read about the history of U. S. Highway 189; including its route through Silver Creek Canyon between Wanship and Snyderbille Basin.)

North Temple Viaduct

December 18, 1971
The new North Temple viaduct was projected to be completed by June 1972, with "construction of the new viaduct and demolition of the old one progressing ahead of schedule despite wintry weather." (Deseret News, December 18, 1971)

Timeline of Other Highway Projects

(selected projects only)

December 1849
Parley Pratt opened his "Golden Pass" toll road in Big Kanyon Creek Kanyon (later Parleys Canyon). This was the first improved road in Utah intended for public use.

(Read more about The Golden Pass)

October 1, 1952
In November 1951 work began on the new road north from Foothill Blvd. and 21st East, north along 21st East and across Sunnyside Avenue on a curving alignment across the Fort Douglas reservation and avoiding the soon-to-be completed Veterans Hospital, to a connection with 5th South. teh new road was completed and opened for public use on October 1, 1952, and was designated as Alternate U. S. 40. (Salt Lake Telegram, November 19, 1951; August 29, 1952)

May 1963
Interstate 80 was opened through Silver Creek Canyon, between Echo and Park City, replacing U. S. Route 189 along the same route..

Part of U. S. Route 189 takes it from Echo, Utah to Silver Creek Junction northeast of Park City on Interstate 80. U. S. 189 is paralleled along this stretch by Union Pacific's Park City Branch. At Silver Creek Junction, U. S. 189 meets U. S. Route 40 and continues south through Heber and into Provo Canyon.

The route of Union Pacific's Park City Branch took it through Silver Creek Canyon, west from Wanship to Snyderville Basin. Through the canyon, the Park City Branch split the eastbound and westbound lanes of today's Interstate 80. The route of Highway 189 through Silver Creek Canyon was originally that of the territorial toll road between Echo and Salt Lake City. (Additional research is needed to determine the relationship between the Park City Branch, the territorial toll road and the abandoned-in-1887 Utah Eastern alignment through Silver Creek Canyon.)

Although the railroad's operations were not affected, the appearance of Silver Creek Canyon began to change in June 1960 with the construction of an all-new alignment for Interstate 80 south of the tracks on previously untouched land. The existing U.S. Route 189 to the north had been built in the 1920s on the abandoned Utah Eastern alignment (abandoned in 1887), and remained in use. Two-way traffic was diverted to the new eastbound lanes upon completion in 1962, and the old U.S. 189 alignment was rebuilt to become the new westbound lanes. The entire project was completed in May 1963.

May 1967
Union Pacific and Western Pacific realigned their mainlines west of Salt Lake City to allow for the construction of Interstate 80.

WP and UP completed a line change to allow the construction of today's I-80, west of Salt Lake City. Included was a new line for WP from about 1000 West, paralleling UP's LA&SL line west to Gladiola Street, at about 3200 West. WP's mainline was abandoned upon completion of the line change, which included a new location called "WP-UP Junction" at about 1100 West. The original WP/LA&SL diamond crossing at Navajo Street was abandoned and the tracks between the new WP-UP Junction and Smelter, 15 miles to the west, were operated as joint trackage. (Track and Time, by Jeff Asay, page 94)

WP-UP Junction, a double crossover at about 1100 West, was added in 1967 to replace the "Navajo Street" diamond-crossing at about 1400 West. As noted above, Jeff Asay wrote that the change was to put the WP and UP(LA&SL) lines west from Salt Lake City, on a common alignment in preparation for what today is I-80, and the new superhighway's crossing over the two rail lines at Cheyenne Street (about 1550 West). With the common ownership of both UP and WP lines after the 1983 merger, the need went away to crossover to WP-owned tracks before the ownership changed at the Jordan River, and the double crossover was moved several miles west to Orange Street, about a mile west of Redwood Road. (Google map showing the Orange Street crossing.) The map shows that the abandoned WP route was used as the location for Interstate 80, including the later interchange between I-80 and the later I-215 Belt Route, completed in 1985-1986.

October 1970
Interstate 80N was opened in lower Weber Canyon.

A minor line change in Union Pacific's mainline in lower Weber Canyon took place in 1966 just east of the Devils Gateway bridges to accommodate the construction of Interstate 80 North. Construction continued on the new highway until it was opened for traffic in October 1970. On May 1, 1980, Interstate 80N was changed to Interstate 84, the designation used today.

May 12, 1997
Construction started on I-15 reconstruction project, covering a 17-mile section of Interstate 15 through Salt Lake County. (UDOT Press Release dated April 30, 2002)

July 15, 2001
I-15 reconstruction project was completed, $32 million under budget, and three months ahead of the scheduled October 15, 2001 completion date. The project included 142 bridges and 10 new interchanges, spread out over a distance of 17 miles. (UDOT Press Release dated April 30, 2002)

The first interchange to reopen was at 600 North, which opened during the week of October 24 to November 6, 1998.

In May 2001, the project was essentially completed, with both northbound and southbound lanes being opened to the public.

The total cost of the I-15 reconstruction project was reported to be $1.632 billion, compared to Boston's Central Artery/Ted Williams Tunnel Project ("The Big Dig") with a reported cost of $4.1 billion, including $867 million in cost overruns. The I-15 reconstruction project was the result of the need to expand the highway's six lanes of travel (three in each direction), with eight to ten lanes of travel (four or five in each direction), and was in response to the increased transportation needs due to Salt Lake City being named in June 1995 as the host city for the 2002 Winter Olympics, scheduled for February 2002. The schedule was accelerated from a normal seven years for a traditional design, bid, build project, to a more rapid 4.5 years for a design-build project, meaning that construction was begun on certain portions while design was not yet complete on other portions. The first designs were completed in February 1996. Due to the very large nature of the project, the contract was awarded on March 26, 1997 to a consortium of large companies under the name of Wasatch Constructors, a joint venture of Peter Kiewit Sons of Omaha, Nebraska, Granite Construction Co. of Watsonville, California, and Washington Construction Co. of Highland, California. (U.S. DOT Office of Inspector General, Audit Report, issued November 13, 2000)

The I-15 reconstruction project was notable within the civil engineering community as the first large-scale usage of expanded polystyrene foam blocks to stabilize large fills and embankments.

November 2009
The Pleasant Grove grade separation underpass for State Street to pass under the Union Pacific tracks (known as UDOT structure C-149), was closed in October 2008. Over the next 11 months, Utah Department of Transportation spent $20 million to completely replace the underpass with a new alignment for State Street, which included a new overpass for the railroad tracks. The new overpass was opened for traffic on November 9, 2009. (Deseret News, November 14, 2009) Planning started in February 2004. (Deseret News, February 20, 2004) The original underpass was built in 1937.

Interstate System

(More research is needed to compile histories of the federal Interstate system in Utah)

In 1997 work began on the Interstate 15 reconstruction project, completed in 2001. The reconstruction of Interstate 15 was the reason for so many changes to the railroads in downtown Salt Lake City, as the area was redeveloped as a project known as The Gateway.

The I-15 project included numerous new overpasses, bridges and interchanges. Among them were new on- and off-ramps to directly serve Salt Lake City. When I-15 was completed in the mid-1960s, the city's railroads and their rail yards were an important part of everyday business, accessing numerous and almost uncountable warehouses and businesses throughout Salt Lake City's west side. This forced the highway engineers to build overhead viaducts of great length, to move automobile traffic across the numerous tracks that bisected the city. By the late 1990s, everyday railroading had been reduced as part of everyday business in Salt Lake City, and the railroads were asked to participate in the needed changes, removing some of their inactive tracks so that the on- and off-ramps could be shortened.

Highways At UtahRails

It's true that UtahRails.net is all about railroads, but putting railroads in context with their surroundings requires that one be aware of the roads and highways that usually parallel rail lines. My first research into roads and highways that were adjacent to Utah's railroad lines came in early 1983 as I was researching the history of railroads in Parleys Canyon, east of Salt Lake City. I was taking a cartography class at the University of Utah, as well as a Utah history class from Dean May. Professor May was working with the Sons of Utah Pioneers on a project and suggested a history of Parleys Canyon. Doing a project that embraced the concepts of both maps and history seemed like a good idea, so off I went to start the research.

Following Professor May's suggestion, I soon became deeply engrossed in the subject of the history of roads and highways when it came time to find out when U.S. Route 40 and Interstate 80 were completed through Parleys Canyon, east from Salt Lake to Park City and on to Echo and Echo canyon; it was a fascinating subject. The research paper that resulted was called "The Golden Pass," borrowing from the name that Parley Pratt used for his pioneering toll road through the canyon.

More Information

Street Numbering in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County -- Information about the street numbering system used by Salt Lake County.

The Golden Pass -- A History of Transportation in Parleys Canyon, Utah.

###