Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Hill Air Force Base: Part 1

Hill Air Force Base is a major US Air Force installation located in northern Davis and southern Weber County, Utah. It is the sixth largest employer in Utah and covers 10.46 square miles (6698 acres), with one 13,500 foot runway.

As you might guess, it has also been served by multiple state highways through the years. This is the first post of a multi-part series dedicated to the routes of Hill Air Force Base: this post will discuss the routes serving the south entrance.

Origins of Hill Air Force Base

The idea for a military air base in northern Utah existed as early as 1934, when a temporary Air Corps depot was placed in Salt Lake City to support the US Army's air mail operations. Although that did not last, the Salt Lake City depot was successful enough that the military considered placing a permanent air depot in the area. After surveying several locations, the US Army Air Corps (with a little pressure from the Ogden Chamber of Commerce) chose the Davis/Weber County area for five reasons:
  1. Year-round ideal flying weather
  2. Dry climate favorable for aircraft maintenance and storage
  3. The Ogden area was a well-established rail and road transportation center
  4. Plenty of land, water, power, and manpower available
  5. Location inland protected from a potential attack on the coast
The federal government appropriated $8 million in 1939 to begin construction of what was then called the Ogden Air Depot. Ground was broken in early 1940, and the new base opened later that year under the name Hill Field. Although it is in fact located on top of a hill, it was named for Peter Hill, a US Army pilot who had recently died testing airplanes that would later be developed into the B-17.

The US entered World War II just over a year after Hill Field opened, instantly turning the field into a major maintenance base. After the war, Hill Field became Hill Air Force Base when the US Air Force was created. In 1955, the nearby US Army Ogden Arsenal was transferred to Hill, bringing the base to its present size.

State Routes

The first state routes in the Hill Air Force Base area were the major through routes on the west, north, and east sides of the base, SRs 1, 5, and 49 (which would became US 91, SR 60, and US 89 respectively). The first connecting highway in northeastern Davis County was SR 193, designated in 1935. But it bore little resemblance to its current routing:
From Layton on route 1 northeasterly to route 49.
That was a connection between Main Street (US 91, now SR 126) and SR 49 (now US 89) by way of Layton's Church Street and the east end of modern SR 193. Church isn't drivable as a continuous road today because it's split by Gordon Avenue and Fort Lane, but back in the day it was continuous through those intersections. Here's a US census map from 1940 showing the route:

US Census, 1940.

But that didn't last long. As part of Hill Field's construction in 1940, two new roads were built with federal aid as connections to the new base: one running along the south edge and another heading directly north from US 91 to the base entrance along a new Hill Field Road. When the legislature next met in 1941, it designated the road along the south edge of the base from US 91 at Clearfield to US 89 as a new alignment of SR 193, removing Church Street from the state system. Hill Field Road became a new SR 232.

(193) From Clearfield on route 1 east via south entrance to Hill Field to route 49. 
(232) From the south entrance to Hill Field on route 193 south to Layton on route 1. 

Those alignments were shown on the USGS's 1955 map. Although not labeled, the route of the original SR 193 alignment on Church Street can be seen here as well:

USGS (Kaysville), 1955.

The construction of I-15 required a slight realignment of the south end of SR 232:

USGS (Kaysville), 1992.

That is essentially the modern configuration. A few minor intersection and interchange upgrades have occurred in the vicinity of 232's southern terminus. Hill Field Road was extended west as a local road around 1990. In 2015 and 2016, the I-15 interchange was upgraded to a SPUI, and with new ThrU-turns (sort of a variation on the Michigan Left) at SR 126 and the Layton Hills Mall.

Google Earth, 2019.

The north end of SR 232 was affected by a minor change to the legislative description in 1994, which moved the location of the northern terminus from "Route 193 at the south entrance to Hill Air Force Base" to "the south entrance to Hill Air Force Base", essentially extending the route a short distance from SR 193 to the base gate itself. UDOT's highway reference log agrees with this. However, as we'll see in some of the photos below, all signage at the 193/232 intersection shows a northern terminus at 193...and all of it is definitely newer than 1994. Perhaps this is UDOT's way of warning the general public not to accidentally enter the base.

SR 193 would receive an extension of its own in 2014, but this was far more substantial. In order to provide a better east-west connection from I-15 to northwestern Davis County, SR 193 was extended west from its previous SR 126 terminus to 2000 West (SR 108) along a brand new roadway, most of it to expressway grade:

USGS (Clearfield), 2017.

In 2018, it was extended yet again to 3000 West, where it currently ends. Plans call for even further westward extensions, first to the future West Davis Corridor freeway, then to 4500 West (SR 110).

Route Photos

SR 193

This post will only cover the portions of SR 193 east of SR 126. It has been extended west of there in recent years, but those portions will be covered in another post.

SR 193 begins at 3000 West, heading east with great views of the Wasatch Mountains.

A mile east of there, we'll junction SR 108 at 2000 West. 

Either direction is 108; stay straight for SR 193.
SR 108 also appears on traffic light signage, as UDOT often does on newer installations.

The light at Industrial Parkway features a street blade design commonly found in the Ogden area with the street suffix in a slightly smaller font. I wish this was more widespread.
At SR 126, which is also old US 91, we reach the pre-2014 western terminus of 193.

Use 193 east to get to I-15.

Stay left for I-15 north, keep right for I-15 south.

Turn right here for I-15 south towards Salt Lake City. 

As is typical of newer UDOT signage, the interstate shield is used on traffic light signage.

These bridges date back to the 1966 construction of I-15. Not many of this design remain, and those that do will be replaced quite soon. In fact, these are being replaced as part of the Davis-Weber Express Lane project that is ongoing.

As we head east from I-15, signage points the way to the Davis campus of Weber State University.

SR-193 bears the honorary designation of the Bernard Fisher Highway in this area, but nobody calls it that.

Entering Layton.
As 193 heads east, it will come to a junction with SR 232.
Turn left at 232 for the south gate of Hill Air Force Base.

SR 232 begins to the right. UDOT's highway reference and resolutions say 232 also goes left to the base gate, but signage clearly shows a 232 terminus at 193.

The junction with 232. The Wasatch form an especially impressive backdrop here.

Reassurance shield as we continue east.
Turn left at Fairfield Rd for the Hill AFB East Gate. I didn't actually realize that gate existed - apparently it's only open during special events or when other gates are closed.
The light at Fairfield features double reds, most likely because 193 is a 55 mph expressway here. UDOT tends to put these in at locations with a higher red-light running risk or crash rate.

Another double red occurs at Church Street, where we join up with the original alignment of 193.

1700 East is a seagull intersection, or a "High-T".

Another seagull occurs at 2400 East.

Eventually, we'll come to an interchange with US 89. 
Keep left for 89 north, stay right for 89 south.
A one-piecer END sign marks the eastern terminus of SR 193. Turn left for US 89 north to Ogden.
In fact, that's all you can do. Although there are some roads east of US 89 in this area, there is no access up there from 193.

SR 232

Immediately after SR 232 begins, there is an interchange at I-15.

There is no access across Hill Field Road here, so traffic coming from Gordon Avenue will need to use the U-turn pocket ahead to access SR 232 south to I-15.

Both U-turn lanes go to I-15 via SR 232 south, but trucks may not use the left lane.

U-turn signals are always a neat thing to see in person. Only a handful exist in Utah that I'm aware of.

This was posted in the U-turn pocket itself.

In a mile we'll intersect Antelope Drive. This used to be the south end of SR 108, but it's now just another locally maintained major roadway.

Most traffic lights on this road have the new street blade style that includes the route shield.

Turning around for a minute for what I thought was a cool view back to the south. This section of 232 is paved in concrete, which is somewhat rare for a UDOT-maintained surface road.

As the route approaches Hill Air Force Base, it comes to a junction with SR 193.

Stay straight for the Hill Air Force Base south gate; turn left for SR 193 to Clearfield.

SR 232 ends here. As mentioned above, signage clearly marks a northern terminus at 193 even though most official documentation suggests the route continues another few hundred feet to the base gate.

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