The reconstruction of Interstate 15 in Utah County scheduled to wrap up late this year may cost $200 million less than its original $1.73 billion overall budget, highway officials told legislators Friday.
Carlos Braceras, deputy director of the Utah Department of Transportation, said the project may not need much of the contingency money built into its budget and has benefitted from lower-than-planned interest rates.
Lawmakers said the $200 million savings could have a ripple effect by helping the state avoid having to issue more bonds this year. In fact, Utah would save $66 million over the life of those bonds, said Mark Bleazard, fiscal analyst for the Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee.
There's only one problem: Choosing not to issue bonds would technically force UDOT to operate in the red for a few months because of when it receives different types of revenues.
UDOT Executive Director John Njord told lawmakers that the last time the agency operated temporarily in the red, its executive director was fired. But Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said it makes financial sense to temporarily loan UDOT money from the general fund to save big money long term.