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As legislative battles heat up over raising transportation taxes, an outside research group verified on Tuesday that Utah officials are accurate in claims that the state faces an $11.3 billion shortfall for priority transportation projects through 2040.

In fact, TRIP — a national transportation research organization —">released a report saying Utah officials may have been a little conservative in their projections.

TRIP says that through 2045, "the state will face a transportation funding shortfall of nearly $27 billion in funds needed for roadway and transit operations." It also released a list of what it sees as the most-needed transportation projects here.

"It's a nice affirmation of the work that's been done through the long-range planning process," said Carlos Braceras, executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation. "It shows we're headed in the right direction."

He noted that all of the projects that TRIP listed in its new report as essential for the state were already included in Utah's unified transportation plan through 2040.

Carolyn Kelly with TRIP said, "Our report provides the blueprint for the state going forward in terms of the needs that should be addressed. However, those needs and these transportation projects will be left stranded on the drawing board unless the state can close that $11 billion shortfall."

Without the funding, she said, "The entire system could deteriorate and become congested. That means it causes the quality of life here to suffer, and makes the state less attractive" for business.

The Legislature is considering numerous proposals to increase revenue for roads and transit, including raising or reforming gasoline tax, hiking car registration fees, raising taxes on alternative fuels such as natural gas and raising sales taxes.

TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, labor unions and other businesses involved in highway and transit construction. Some of the most-needed projects it lists for Utah include:

• Finish the Mountain View Corridor freeway. The $1.3 billion project in western Salt Lake and Utah counties "will help alleviate the highest volume of areas of I-15, which are frequently congested and have limited options for widening," the study said.

• Widen and reconstruct State Road 201 in Salt Lake County. The $103 million project is needed, it said, because "increasing congestion has slowed the flow of freight, goods and commuters."

• Optimize Utah Transit Authority bus service. It calls for adding more routes and more frequent service at a cost of $256 million.

• Connect FrontRunner trains better to the rest of the UTA system. That includes bus rapid transit systems or circulator buses from FrontRunner stations in Ogden, Murray, south Davis County, South Jordan, Sandy, Orem and Provo.

• Double-tracking FrontRunner. In stretches, it now has only one track that trains in both directions must share. It said double-tracking at a cost of $600 million would offer more reliability, frequency and capacity.

• Adding two general purpose lanes on I-15 in Box Elder and Weber counties. The $195 million project would add two lanes on 13 miles of the freeway.

• Adding passing lanes on U.S. 40. The $108 million project in the Uinta Basin would "help slow-moving trucks to traverse steep grades with less interference to traffic flow."

• Extending TRAX from Draper to Lehi. The study estimates it would cost $1.5 billion.

• Widen and reconstruct segments of I-15 in Washington County. It said a $133 million project is needed to "aid the flow of freight, goods and commuters."

The full report is available online at