Interstate 80 in Utah
Interstate 80 or I -80 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of Utah. The highway forms an east-west route through the north of the state, from the Nevada state border at Wendover through the Bonneville Salt Flats, past the Great Salt Lake and through Salt Lake City, then through the Wasatch Range, to the border with Wyoming. I-80 is 316 kilometers long in Utah.
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I-80 at Wendover.
I-80 on the west side of Salt Lake City.
I-80 in eastern Salt Lake City.
I-80 in the Echo Canyon east of Salt Lake City.
The Bonneville Salt Flats from a parking lot off I-80.
Bonneville Salt Flats & Great Salt Lake Desert
I-80 begins on the border with the state of Nevada at the town of Wendover, where Interstate 80 in Nevadacoming from Reno and because of the difference in height you have a direct view of the white Bonneville Salt Flats. I-80 then carries 70 kilometers through this extremely flat salt flat. The highway has 2×2 lanes here, on the west side of the salt flat there is a rest area where you can stop. From Wendover, a 73-kilometre stretch will follow without intersecting roads and without exits. I-80 then leads through the Great Salt Lake Desert, a high-altitude desert area with some low mountain ranges all around. This part also leads through hardly inhabited area, although there are some side roads. I-80 then runs along the south side of the Great Salt Lake, after which traffic becomes a bit busier as traffic merges into long-distance traffic from a few towns. One then reaches the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.
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Salt Lake City
I-80 then passes through the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. The highway does not reach the real built-up area until relatively late and I-80 has 2×2 lanes left until the Salt Lake City airport. Here is an interchange with State Route 154, after which one crosses Interstate 215, which forms the western bypass of Salt Lake City. I-80 has 2×3 lanes here and then has a short double numbering with Interstate 15 at the height of the center. This section runs 5 kilometers north-south and has between 12 and 18 lanes, partly with a parallel structure. The State Route 201join here, then I-80 turns east. Through South Salt Lake, the highway narrows in two phases from 2×4 to 2×3 lanes. At the eastern edge of the conurbation, one crosses I-215 for the second time.
After Salt Lake City, the long climb to the higher Wasatch Range begins. Salt Lake City itself is quite high, at over 1,200 meters, but the pass height is about 2,170 meters, Parley’s Summit. The climb begins in Parley’s Canyon. On some stretches there are ascents of 6 percent for 16 kilometers in a row. I-80 is wide, with creepers, and runaway tracks for trucks descending and having broken brakes. After Parley’s Summit, the winter sports resorts around Park City are connected to US 40. After this the highway descends again, but not much, 1700 meters is the lowest point.
At the village of Echo, Interstate 84 ends at I-80. I-80 turns east here, through Echo Canyon. The landscape here is very rugged, and from the highway one can see many canyons that end at the canyon through which I-80 runs. I-80 ascends here again. Soon the highway is again above 2,000 meters. In an otherwise unpopulated area, I-80 crosses the state border with Wyoming, just west of the town of Evanston. Interstate 80 in Wyoming then continues to Rock Springs and Cheyenne.
Interstate 80 follows old car trails, such as the Victory Highway in the west of the state and the Lincoln Highway, important long-haul routes of the early 20th century. Before the current highway was built, US Highways ran along this route, such as US 40 between Wendover and Park City and US 530 further toward Wyoming.
Before 1930, US 40 was largely unpaved outside Salt Lake City. This was paved at a fairly rapid pace in the early to mid 1930s. This also applies to the then US 530 and US 30 to the border with Wyoming. Until after World War II, US 40 was Utah’s only through-paved east-west connection.
Before the construction of I-80, short sections of US 40 west and east of Salt Lake City had already been widened to 4 lanes, west to Great Salt Lake and east through Parleys Canyon to Park City.
Construction of I-80
Construction on I-80 began shortly after the creation of the Interstate Highway system in 1956. The first section of I-80 to appear on official maps was an eight-mile section in a military area west of the Great Salt Lake in 1960. This was a doubling of existing US 40, as much of I-80 was constructed west of Salt Lake City. In 1961, a second section opened in remote area not far from the Wyoming border.
Construction on I-80 progressed through the first half of the 1960s, primarily on the plateau east of Salt Lake City to the Wyoming border. Also, the existing four-lane US 40 through Parleys Canyon from Salt Lake City to Park City was reconstructed to I-80. This part appeared on the maps as I-80 from 1971. In 1967, the first section opened in Salt Lake City, from I-15 to the base of Parleys Canyon.
The biggest opening came about 1970, when a 63-kilometer stretch of I-70 through the Bonneville Salt Flats between Wendover and Knolls was opened. A year later, much of the remainder of I-70 opened through the Great Salt Lake Desert, leaving one missing section south of the Great Salt Lake, in the Tooele region, which opened in 1972. East of Salt Lake City were two short missing links, between Parleys Canyon and Park City, opened about 1975, and between Emory and Castle Rock, opened about 1978.
For a long time there was a missing link in western Salt Lake City. This section was originally constructed as four-lane US 40, when it was scrapped in this area, the road was temporarily renumbered State Highway 186. This section was finally opened on August 22, 1986, making this also the very last section of Interstate 80 to be open throughout the country.
|Exit 62 Military Area Lakeside||Exit 70 Delle||13 km||00-00-1960|
|Exit 185 Castle Rock||Exit 187 Fawcett||3 km||00-00-1961|
|Exit 187 Fawcett||Exit 191 Wahsatch||6 km||00-00-1962|
|Exit 56 Aragonite Road||Exit 62 Military Area Lakeside||10 km||00-00-1962|
|Exit 146 US 40||Exit 155 Wanship||14 km||00-00-1963|
|Exit 155 Wanship||Exit 162 Coalville||11 km||00-00-1965|
|Exit 191 Wahsatch||Exit 196 Wyoming state line||8 km||00-00-1965|
|Exit 99 Lake Point||Exit 104 Great||8 km||00-00-1967|
|Exit 168 I-84||Exit xx Echo Canyon||8 km||00-00-1967|
|Exit 122 I-15 (south)||Exit 128 Lincoln Highway||10 km||00-00-1967|
|Exit xx Echo Canyon||Exit 178 Emory||8 km||00-00-1968|
|Exit 119 Redwood Road||Exit 120 I-15 (north)||2 km||00-00-1969|
|Exit 2 Wendover||Exit 41 Knolls||63 km||00-00-1970|
|Exit 162 Coalville||Exit 168 I-84||10 km||00-00-1970|
|Exit 41 Knolls||Exit 56 Aragonite Road||24 km||00-00-1971|
|Exit 128 Lincoln Highway||Exit 134 State Highway 65||10 km||00-00-1971|
|Exit 145 Kimball Junction||Exit 146 US 40||2 km||00-00-1971|
|Exit 70 Delle||Exit 77 Rowley Junction||11 km||00-00-1971|
|Exit 77 Rowley Junction||Exit 99 Lake Point||35 km||00-00-1972|
|Exit 134 State Highway 65||Exit 145 Kimball Junction||18 km||00-00-1975?|
|Exit 178 Emory||Exit 185 Castle Rock||13 km||00-00-1978?|
|Exit 0 Nevada state line||Exit 2 Wendover||3 km||00-00-1980|
|Exit 104 Great||Exit 114 5600 West||11 km||00-00-1982?|
|Exit 114 5600 West||Exit 118 Redwood Road||7 km||22-08-1986|
In anticipation of the 2002 Olympic Games held in Salt Lake City, I-15/80 along downtown has been completely reconstructed. Both interchanges with I-80 have been completely redeveloped and a brand new interchange with State Route 201 has been constructed. A 4×4 lane parallel structure has also been constructed between the southern interchange with I-80 and Downtown Salt Lake City. During the work in the 1990s, only 2×2 lanes were temporarily available, a huge difference from the situation after the completion of the project.
Between 2007 and 2009, a 2.5-mile section between I-15 and South 1300E was widened from 2×3 to 2×4 lanes.
Every day, 7,000 vehicles cross the Nevada border and 7,300 vehicles drive through the Bonneville Salt Flats. Only just before Salt Lake City are more than 10,000 vehicles driving, so the transition from a quiet highway to a busy city road is quite big. 51,000 vehicles drove past Salt Lake City International Airport, rising to 59,000 vehicles west of I-215 and 58,000 vehicles west of I-15. The double-numbered I-15 along Downtown Salt Lake City is the busiest with 230,500 vehicles per day.
There were 119,000 vehicles east of I-15, dropping slightly to 83,000 vehicles west of I-215. 47,000 vehicles passed through Parley’s Canyon, descending to 14,500 vehicles east of US 40 at Park City. There were 14,000 vehicles east of I-84 at Echo, as well as at the Wyoming border.