Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson is known for his amicable personality. On Tuesday, however, during a City Council meeting, Johnson was outspokenly opposed to the Mountainland Association of Government (MAG) and Utah Department of Transportation’s (UDOT) plan to widen Pioneer Crossing, making it a freeway, which would affect over 100 residential and commercial properties.
“Recently, in MAG [meetings], there have been a number of discussions about transportation systems through Lehi. We have had a lot of discussions about east-west corridors. Three months ago, UDOT started with a plan to expand Pioneer Crossing. They presented this to us and talked about moving forward on making Pioneer Crossing a freeway. They had no conversation with us about it,” said Johnson.
Pioneer Crossing’s current width includes a 108-foot right-of-way span. The proposed plan would require the span to nearly triple to a minimum of 300 feet, which would require removing at least 90 residential properties and several commercial properties.
“We’re talking about a significant number of residential properties and new commercial properties affected,” emphasized Johnson.
Johnson has been working with City staff and Hales Engineering to study alternative transportation improvements and to lobby other Utah County mayors to oppose MAG’s current plan.
On Tuesday, Ryan Hales from Hales Engineering presented the City Council with two other road improvement scenarios that Johnson had presented to MAG and neighboring mayors.
Scenario one is the MAG proposal turning Pioneer Crossing into a freeway with two Lehi interchanges for residents to enter Pioneer Crossing at 500 West and 2300 West. This plan would tie the road into I-15 and the American Fork Main Street interchange.
Scenario two proposes extending Pony Express Parkway with two extra lanes on Pioneer Crossing and 1900 South in Lehi.
Scenario three would be creating a new freeway on the north shore of Utah Lake, connecting to Pony Express Parkway to the west.
Scenarios two and three provide a continuation of a route that parallels I-15, off-loading traffic at Pleasant Grove Boulevard, 500 East in American Fork, or 1600 North in Lindon.
The study of each route used MAG’s projected build-out calculations for Lehi, Saratoga Springs, and Eagle Mountain. Lehi’s population is currently 90,000, with a projection of 185,000. Saratoga Springs currently has 45,000 people, with a build-out total of 155,000. Eagle Mountain presently sits at 50,000 residents, with a projected total of 240,000.
Volume demand for each scenario includes:
“Our recommendation is that we consider scenario two as the preferred alternative. We also think scenarios two and three need to be evaluated,” concluded Hales.
Mayor Johnson said he received the support of most mayors to avoid the Pioneer Crossing freeway despite MAG’s pushback.
“MAG pleaded with the rest of the mayors to not deviate from what they [MAG] wanted to do,” said Johnson.
“We need to have a minimum impact on Lehi citizens…Whatever the solution. Our residents need to also benefit,” concluded Johnson.
“What can we do now? How do we help?” inquired Councilman Paul Hancock.
Hales and Johnson recommended that the Council and public stay engaged and offer feedback during the process. MAG and UDOT will provide opportunities for public input throughout the planning phase.