Interstate 215 Utah

Photo taken by Jeff Royston

Routing

Interstate 215 is the belt route for Salt Lake City in Utah. Starting at the northern end of the city at its junction with Interstate 15, it closely parallels I-15 south toward Sandy, then turns east and then north to meet Interstate 80. As such, Interstate 215 provides a bypass for both Interstates 15 and 80 while also connecting with Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).

With 1997-July 2001 reconstruction of Interstate 15 and closures of Interstate 80 in 1998 and 1999, Interstate 215 defaulted as the main through route. With completion of those major projects, Interstate 215 returned to its role as an alternate and commuter route.

History

The original plan for the Salt Lake City Belt Route divided the freeway into a 17.5 mile western two quadrants, Interstate 215, and a 11.6 mile eastern portion, Interstate 415. The $65 million freeway was separated into nine Sections and was expected to be completed in 1974. The initial segment of the Belt Route opened by 1963 as a two-lane access road linking 2100 North with Utah 68 (Redwood Road) to improve access to Salt Lake Municipal Airport. A second section under construction by 1963 was the I-415 link with Interstate 80 at the mouth of Parleys Canyon.1

Work in 1968 included completion of the I-215 link between 2200 North and Interstate 15 at the north end of the Belt Route. Land clearing was also underway in 1968 for I-415 southward from I-80 at Parleys Canyon. Bids for work on the Belt Route from there to 4500 South were taken in March 1968.1

Construction was scheduled for September 1968 to build Section Number 2, from 2200 South to I-80 with completion expected in 1970. This portion was delayed until the 1980s, as where sections south of I-80 on the west side of Salt Lake City and the southeastern belt route due to public opposition. The original Nine Sections were as follows with their projected completion dates:1

  • Section 1 - 2200 North to I-15, opened in 1968
  • Section 2 - Interstate 80 to 2200 North, projected for 1972
  • Section 3 - 2100 South to Interstate 80, projected for March 1969 to late 1972
  • Section 4 - 4700 South to 2100 South, projected for June 1970 to late 1972
  • Section 5 - Utah 68 (Redwood Road) by 6200 South to 4700 South, projected for late 1972 with Section 6
  • Section 6 - Interstate 15 west to Utah 68 (Redwood Road), under construction in 1968, projected for late 1972
  • Section 7 - Interstate 15 to 200 East, projected for late 1972 with Section 6
  • Section 8 - 2000 East to Wasatch Boulevard, projected from March 1971 to late 1973
  • Section 9 - Wasatch Boulevard north to Interstate 80, under construction from April 1968 to late 1970

As an effort to maintain continuity to benefit the motoring public, the state of Utah opted to redesignate the entire Salt Lake City Belt Route as just I-215. A petition by the Utah State Department of Highways to AASHTO on October 14, 1968 was approved in 1969 to both eliminate I-415 from I-15 in south Murray northeast to I-80 near the mouth of Parleys Canyon and extend I-215 over the same route.

Interstate 415 was indeed signed as this late 1960s photo showed along Interstate 15 north. This photo was found in the Utah State Archives and scanned by AARoads Forum Member CL.

The alignment for a 6.5 mile section of the southeast belt route, through Holladay and Cottonwood, was endorsed by the Utah Transportation Commission on December 17, 1975.2 Of five alternatives outlined, Alternative A-6 was selected from the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS was prepared after area residents along the corridor filed suit over the controversial southeast quadrant in July 1973. Preliminary findings of the study indicated that the completed portions of the Belt Route north and west would not be used to their full potential without completion of the section in between. It also added that congestion and air pollution levels would increase along major arterials due to expected growth through 1995.3

Alternative A-6, which favored a vacant area between 900 East and 1300 East, included three interchanges and ran east from 300 East / 6800 South to Knudsens Corners (6200 South / 2000 East) and north to the preexisting I-215 at 4500 South.2 Despite the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) adopting the final EIS on March 4, 1977, the section was still contested by area residents, the Cottonwood, Inc. citizen group and Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson. Opponents claimed that the endorsement by UDOT of the EIS was done without discussion, paving the way to submit the statement to the Federal Highway Administration. The proposed beltway along 6200 South called for a depressed design 20 to 30 feet below grade, requiring a relocation of Little Cottonwood Creek onto an aqueduct. Concerns for air quality, runoff, drainage and flood problems were cited.4

A lawsuit was eventually filed by Cottonwood, Inc., but the court did not grant the injunction, allowing work to proceed on completing the route. A closure of the Belt Route from 300 East to 700 East took place on June 4, 1979 in preparation for excavation work. Subsequent construction was divided into five sections.5 Delays however continued through the next decade.

Construction on I-215 from 1100 East (Exit 9) to Highland Drive (Exit 8) was completed by November 1987. Work on three additional sections remained scheduled through late 1988. They included segments from Highland Drive east to 6400 South and north to 4500 South (Exit 5), from 2000 North / 2000 West (Exit 25) south to I-80 (Exit 22) and 2100 South / 2000 West (Exit 20) north to I-80.6

The Belt Route western section was completed on October 7, 1988 with the opening of I-215 between Interstate 80 and 2100 South. The six-lane, 3.2 mile section cost $36.6 million. The southeast section, from 6500 South to 3300 East remained under construction for another 18 months.7

Highway Guides

Eastern Terminus - Interstate 80 - Park Terrace, Utah
Perspective from Interstate 215 Outer Loop (northeast)
Traveling northeast on Interstate 215 (outer loop of the 270-degree belt route), this is the first guide sign for Exit 2, Junction Interstate 80 east (1.50 miles). It is located near the 3800 South on-ramp to Interstate 215 north. Interstate 215 ends at its merge onto Interstate 80 westbound 2.4 miles ahead. Photo taken 09/08/05.
Exit 2 departs Interstate 215 northbound one half mile north of Utah 171 (Exit 3). Interstate 80 ascends through Parleys Canyon from Salt Lake City to Kimball Junction. The freeway serves eastern bedroom communities located within the Park City area such as Silver Creek Junction. Interstate 80 eastbound serves the Park City and Deer Valley ski resorts on the eastern slopes of the Wasatch Range via Exit 145 (Utah 224 south). Wasatch Boulevard meanwhile parallels the northbound lanes of Interstate 215 closely between Millcreek Road and Utah 171 (3300 South). Photo taken 09/08/05.
Interstate 215 northeast reaches Exit 2, Junction Interstate 80 near Salt Lake City. Compare the age of this signbridge with the signbridge at the northern terminus along Southbound Interstate 15. Photos taken 09/08/05 and by Jeff Royston (03/24/02).
The Interstate 215 northbound mainline turns westward for its merge onto Interstate 80 west. Exit 1 links the freeway with Utah 186 west (Foothill Drive) and Parleys Way for eastern reaches of Salt Lake City. Utah 186 journeys northwest via Foothill Drive to the University of Utah campus. Parleys Way turns west to 2100 South and 2300 East. Photo taken 09/08/05.
The last Interstate 215 reassurance shield lies ahead of the mainline merge onto Interstate 80 west at Parleys Historic Park. Note the WEST cardinal direction banner for Interstate 215 (it was EAST!); it probably should say END Interstate 215/WEST Interstate 80 at this point. Photo taken 09/08/05.
Traffic from Utah 186 (Foothill Drive) eastbound merges onto Interstate 215 north ahead of its merge with Interstate 80. Interstate 80 enters the city of Salt Lake ahead and merges with Interstate 15 in five miles. Photo taken 09/08/05.
For traffic exiting onto Interstate 80 east, a trailblazer shield awaits at the top of the ramp. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/16/06).
The connection from Interstate 215 north to Interstate 80 east (and from Interstate 80 west to Interstate 215 south) is served by this two-lane, undivided highway for a bit more than a mile. This configuration is partially due to the lack of space at the mouth of Parleys Canyon. Photos taken by Steve Hanudel (05/16/06).
Perspective from Interstate 80 west
Descending rapidly from the high desert of Wyoming and ski resorts of Park City to the flats of Salt Lake City, Interstate 80 carries three westbound lanes as the freeway wends its way through Parleys Canyon. The interchange with Interstate 215/Salt Lake Belt Route is located at the mouth of Parleys Canyon, at the end of a long descent from Parleys Summit. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/16/06).
Interstate 215 is signed simply with the designation Belt Route in lieu of any control points. The freeway forms a 270 degree beltway for the city of Salt Lake. Interests to the southeastern suburbs such as Holladay, Cottonwood Heights, Midvale, and Murray should use Interstate 215 south. Travelers destined for Provo may use either Interstate 215 south or Interstate 80 west to Interstate 15 south. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/16/06).
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 130, Junction Southbound Interstate 215 and Westbound Utah 186 (old U.S. 40/Foothill Boulevard).The southbound beginning of Interstate 215 leaves Interstate 80 westbound at Exit 130. Posted at the ramp split is a Utah 186 button copy shield and sign for Exit 129 to Foothill Drive north and Parleys Way west. Utah 186 stems north from the ending Interstate 215 freeway, following old U.S. 40 into downtown Salt Lake City. Photos taken by Steve Hanudel (05/16/06) and Jeff Royston (03/24/02).
Perspective from Utah 186/Foothill Boulevard east
Now traveling east on Utah 186/Foothill Boulevard, the mighty Wasatch Range comes into view. Utah 186, which is former U.S. 40, soon connects with Interstate 80, Interstate 215, and Parleys Way. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/16/06).
Utah 186/Foothill Boulevard comes to an end as the road splits: the left lane connects to Interstate 215 south; the middle lane connects to Interstate 80; and the right lane connects to Parleys Way. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/16/06).
After traffic for Parleys Way west departs, Utah 186/Foothill Boulevard transitions into a freeway, with a jersey barrier separating the two directions of travel. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/16/06).
Shortly thereafter, the left lanes transition directly onto Interstate 215 Inner Loop (south), while the right lane exits onto Interstate 80 east to Cheyenne and west to downtown Salt Lake City and Reno. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/16/06).
Foothill Boulevard contributes two lanes to Interstate 215 south, which also carries incoming lanes from Interstate 80 east and west. The freeway hugs the foothills of the Wasatch Front until it turns southwest toward Interstate 15 near Sandy. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/16/06).
Northern Terminus - Interstate 15 - North Salt Lake City, Utah
Perspective from Interstate 15 south
Now traveling south on Interstate 15, this mileage sign provides the distance to Exit 314 (Center Street), Exit 313 (Interstate 215 south), and Exit 312 (U.S. 89 south) to North Salt Lake. Photo taken 09/08/05.
Five lanes of Interstate 15 southbound prepare for the split with Interstate 215 (Exit 313) and U.S. 89 south (Beck Street). Interstate 215 provides a through traffic bypass for travelers bound for Provo, Las Vegas, and other points south. U.S. 89 enters the scene from Main Street and briefly parallels Interstate 15 before branching southward into Salt Lake City via Beck Street. Photo taken 09/08/05.
Exit 314 departs Interstate 15 southbound for Center Street. The areas along Center Street west of the freeway are home to railroad lines and industry as witnessed by the skyline. Photo taken 09/08/05.
Interstate 15 passes over Center Street one half mile north of the split with Interstate 215 south. The next upcoming exits overhead lists Interstate 215, U.S. 89, and 2300 North (Exit 311). Photo taken 09/08/05.
A pair of lanes branch away from Interstate 15 southbound for Interstate 215 south. Interstate 215 travels west briefly to Utah 68 (Redwood Road) before turning south toward the airport and West Valley City. Interstate 15 meanwhile maintains six overall lanes through the Interstate 215 & U.S. 89 confluence. Photo taken 09/08/05.
A wye interchange facilitates the movements between Interstate 15 and Interstate 215 at Exit 313. Interstate 215, signed as the Belt Route, serves Salt Lake City International Airport via connections with Interstate 80 seven miles to the south. The freeway meets Interstate 15 again at Exit 298. Photos taken 09/08/05 and by Jeff Royston (03/24/02).
Perspective from Interstate 215 Outer Loop (south)
Interstate 215 begins at North Salt Lake City via a wye interchange (Exit 317). Pictured here is the first reassurance shield posted along the mainline (minus its directional banner). Photo taken 09/08/05.
Interstate 215 south initially travels west before turning south parallel to Utah 68 (Redwood Road). The first interchange joins the Salt Lake City belt line with Utah 68/Redwood Road at Exit 28. A diamond interchange facilitates the movements between the two highways. Photo taken 09/08/05.

Sources:

  1. "Belt Freeway Construction Shows Continued Progress." The Deseret News, February 24, 1968.
  2. "Five alternatives for design of I-215." The Deseret News, March 26, 1975.
  3. "State endorses I-215 belt route." The Deseret News, December 12, 1975.
  4. "Citizen group girds for battle to halt I-215 belt route." The Deseret News, April 22, 1977.
  5. "Work begins on segment of belt route." The Deseret News, June 4, 1979.
  6. "Belt route - section by section." The Deseret News, July 30, 1987.
  7. "Delay in opening I-215 interchange questioned." The Deseret News, September 30, 1988.
  8. "105 Miles Planned For Utah's Interstate." The Deseret News, January 11, 1969.

Page Updated June 29, 2016.



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Mileage

State Utah
Mileage 29.02
Cities Salt Lake City, Millcreek, Holladay, Cottonwood
Junctions Interstate 80, Interstate 15, Interstate 80, Interstate 15
Source: December 31, 2015 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-215 Utah Annual Average Daily Traffic

County From: To: AADT Composite
Salt Lake Exit 1/ Interstate 80 split Exit 1/ UT 186 Foothill Drive 13,290
Salt Lake Exit 1/ UT 186 Foothill Drive Exit 1/ I-80 southbound ramp 52,895
Salt Lake Exit 1/ I-80 southbound ramp Exit 3/ Wasatch Boulevard 68,485
Salt Lake Exit 3/ Wasatch Boulevard Exit 4/ 3900 South 55,125
Salt Lake Exit 4/ 3900 South Exit 5/ UT 266 4500 South St. 52,555
Salt Lake Exit 5/ UT 266 4500 South St. Exit 6/ UT 190 6200 South Knudsens Corner 53,200
Salt Lake Exit 6/ UT 190 6200 South Knudsens Corner Exit 8/ UT 152 2000 East Highland Dr. 44,925
Salt Lake Exit 8/ UT 152 2000 East Highland Dr. Exit 9/ 1100 East Union Parkway 77,820
Salt Lake Exit 9/ 1100 East Union Parkway Exit 10/ 300 East 111,790
Salt Lake Exit 10/ 300 East Exit 11/ State Street eastbound entrance 93,770
Salt Lake Exit 11/ State Street eastbound entrance Exit 12/ Jct. I-15 6400 South 125,508
Salt Lake Exit 12/ Jct. I-15 6400 South Exit 13/ Utah 68 Redwood Road 110,130
Salt Lake Exit 13/ Utah 68 Redwood Road Exit 15/ Utah 266 4700 South 97,119
Salt Lake Exit 15/ Utah 266 4700 South Exit 18/ Utah 171 3500 South 105,725
Salt Lake Exit 18/ Utah 171 3500 South Exit 20/ Utah 201 2100 South 103,561
Salt Lake Exit 20/ Utah 201 2100 South Exit 21/ 1300 South California Ave. 64,062
Salt Lake Exit 21/ 1300 South California Ave. Exit 22/ Interstate 80 68,500
Salt Lake Exit 22/ Interstate 80 Exit 23/ 700 North 59,253
Salt Lake Exit 23/ 700 North Exit 25 /2200 North 47,552
Salt Lake/Davis Exit 25/ 2200 North Exit 28/ Utah 68 Redwood Road 54,775
Davis Exit 28/ Utah 68 Redwood Road Interstate 15 65,905
Source: Utah Department of Transportation - Traffic on Utah's Highways 200

Salt Lake City - 1963
Interstate 415 was mostly unconstructed before the designation was dropped in favor of a longer Interstate 215. Two short sections of I-415 were opened to traffic by 1969: a 0.6 mile spur from I-15 to Utah 68 (Redwood Road) at Murray and a 3.1 mile section from Parleys Canyon to 4500 South.7
I-215 mostly served local Salt Lake City area traffic in 1978.
Salt Lake City in 1978. The western section of I-215 leading north and south of I-80 and the southeast quadrant would remain incomplete for another ten years.