Thursday, May 7, 2020

Hill Air Force Base: Part 2

This is the second in a series of posts covering the state routes serving Hill Air Force Base. This post will cover the two west gates.

As mentioned in the previous post, this area was not part of the original air force base, which only included the region around what is now the south gate. Rather, it was the Ogden Army Arsenal, which the U.S. Army had created in 1920 to store munitions. The arsenal was largely left neglected, but in the mid-1930s Army officials decided to expand the base, allowing it to manufacture ammunition as well as store it. Construction lasted through most of the late 1930s and was mostly done by the WPA, PWA, and CCC. By the 1950s the Army wanted a larger land area to work with, but at that point the Arsenal had been boxed in by urban development and Hill Air Force Base, with no room to expand. In 1955, all functions of the Ogden Army Arsenal were transferred to the Tooele Army Depot some 50 miles to the southwest. The land formerly occupied by the arsenal was given to the Air Force at that time, becoming the West Area of Hill Air Force Base.

Route Histories

In 1965, traffic to the west area of the base had increased enough that the state transportation commission designated two routes entering the base from that side. The southern of the two routes was SR 103, which was defined along a short connector from US 91 to the air force base gate:
SR-1 easterly via 600 North Street in Clearfield to Hill Air Force Base Main Gate. 
And it hasn't really changed much since then. The road name is now 650 North, the designation of the road at the west end has gone from US 91 to SR 84 to SR 126, and the I-15 interchange now has traffic lights and a crossover ramp to I-15 southbound, but the only change affecting the route itself happened in 2012. That year, the location of the base gate was moved farther east, probably to allow for the construction of a publicly-accessible commercial district south of the highway that now includes establishments like Starbucks and Jimmy John's. It appears highly unlikely that UDOT ever maintained any of this now-public road between I-15 and the new gate location. To clarify this, the SR 103 legislative description was amended in 2019 to explicitly place the eastern terminus at I-15.

Overview of SR 103, showing the location of the original base gate and the modern gate location. (map from OSM)

At the same time as the designation of SR 103, SR 97 was created with the following legislative description:
SR-1 easterly via 5600 South Street in Roy to Hill Air Force Base north gate. 
This produced a route almost identical to SR 103, but a few miles further north - it began at US 91, crossed I-15, and promptly ended at a Hill Air Force Base gate. However, SR 97 had something 103 didn't - it was located at the eastern end of a section-line road which continued west across the valley. And four years later, in 1969, it was extended two miles west down 5600 South, bringing the west end to a new terminus at 3500 West (SR 108).

That same year, a new east-west route was created and numbered SR 98, connecting 3500 West in Roy to 5900 West (SR 37) out in Hooper along 5500 South. It and SR 97 were likely intended to function as one east-west corridor, but the two routes had a one-block offset at SR 108 because of what appears to be an inconsistency in the section-line grid in the Hooper area. Most states would have just had a one-block 97/108 concurrency, but not Utah - Utah has never really been fond of state route concurrencies (though a few do exist). So instead, two separate routes were created.

The USGS map below was made when this was the case:

USGS Roy, 1990.

By 2000, a new roadway had been built connecting 5500 South directly to the west end of 5600 South. Once this was complete, SR 97 and 98 were consolidated into one route, and the SR 98 designation was decommissioned. The new SR 97 followed most of 5500 South, the new connector roadway, and all of 5600 South, with the remaining short segment of 5500 South given to the city of Roy. 

USGS Roy, 2011. 

No other changes have been made to SR 97. The legislative description still lists the eastern terminus as "Hill Air Force Base Northwest Gate" but according to the route log, the state doesn't maintain anything past the first fence-line east of the Davis-Weber Canal (as evidenced by a visible pavement change at that location). That's less than 100 feet from the I-15 ramps and frontage road, so 97 might as well terminate at I-15.

Route Photos

SR 97

All photos taken in May 2018.

SR 97 westbound begins with a pair of I-15 shields.

The I-15 interchange here is a half-folded diamond on the northbound sign, so a left turn here will put you on northbound 15 while a right turn lands you on the frontage road, Freeway Park Drive.

The southbound half of the interchange is a traditional diamond.

Shortly thereafter, the route will junction SR 126.

Stay straight for 97 west. Turn for 126.

I've always been a fan of UDOT's new shield-in-blade design.

Reassurance shield as we head west from SR 126.

Apparently we'll have a traffic signal in a quarter mile - this type of signage is somewhat unusual to see in Utah

We'll get a bridge over the FrontRunner and Union Pacific Railroad tracks, which provides a nice view of Fremont Island and the rest of the Great Salt Lake region to our west.

If you crane your neck around the sign, you'll find out that we're junctioning 108 ahead

Stay straight for 97, turn for 108.

SR 97 reassurance as we begin to curve into the part that was once SR 98.

After a few more miles, we'll reach Hooper and SR 37.

SR 97 ends here. I love the old beehives at this junction, by the way.

SR 103

Again, all photos taken in May 2018 (on the same day, in fact).

The first (and only) eastbound reassurance shield is incorporated into a one-piecer with a junction sign for I-15.

Turn right for I-15 south to Salt Lake City, stay straight for 15 north to Ogden.

Turn left on the other side of the bridge for I-15 north,

Left here for I-15 north to Ogden. Interesting LGS usage that I'm not sure I've seen in Utah before

Although we've already finished the route, we'll turn back around towards I-15. I couldn't make a post about 103 without featuring the crossover left from the air force base to I-15 south.

I'm not really sure what to call this, but there's another one at SR 93 down in Woods Cross. It's sort of a DDI-CFI hybrid thing.

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