Friday, October 18, 2013

When Straight Roads Aren't Straight in Utah

            The north end of 4500 West in West Point: notice the jag after the intersection.

By Lynn Arave

Have you ever wondered why some roads don't line up?
When is a straight road not a straight road?
When it’s 4500 West Street (also State Road 110) in West Point, Utah.
Anyone who’s traveled this north-south corridor in northwestern Davis County knows it has a large bend in it on its south end, to the west, near 700 South and the Syracuse border.
They may also know it does not line up directly with a continuing segment of 4500 West in the northern edge of West Point, that travels north of 1800 North (State Road 37) into Hooper City. To continue further northward on 4500 West, a jag to the west of about 150 feet is required.

        At the south end of 4500 West Street is this bend that realigns it back to normal.


However, it is also clear that the extreme south and north ends of 4500 West line up, if they could be connected. It is only that long, middle segment, about three miles long, that is out of alignment and likely closer to being 4400 West.
How did this important corridor end up being mismatched?
“It has been that way since pioneer times, way back 100-plus years ago,” Max B. Elliott, Davis County Surveyor, said. “It is the road by usage,” he said of the section that’s out of alignment.
He speculated that some homesteads were in the way of having a straight road and over time that simply became the legal right of way as there was likely too much property to displace.
“There are other roads like that,” Elliott said of 4500 West, though it is the one most visible in its misalignment.
Howard Stoddard, 86, former West Point Mayor, said he didn’t know why the road was crooked.
“It has been that way all of my life,” he said.
Val Hinze, who has lived on 4500 West for more than 35 years, said while he has been keenly aware of the misalignment of part of the road, he too has never heard any cause mentioned.
Today, 4500 West is the most western north-south corridor in Davis County. Lacking any traffic signals or stop signs, it also remains the lone, free-flowing road on Davis County’s west side.
Although the exact cause of the crooked road can’t be identified, a further look at a history of that road and adjoining highways, contains some interesting information.
The 4500 West Street was first designated as a state road, U-195, in 1935, connecting U-37 with U-108 (today’s Antelope Drive).
Back in 1935, U-37 (1800 North or the “Clinton Road”) ended at 4500 West. It wasn’t until 1945 that the road officially looped into Hooper and past “Pig Corner” at its bend.
And, before Hill Air Force Base was established, 1800 North (U-37) used to go all the way east, up and over a sandy hill into Weber Canyon. So, it is more than a coincidence that this road lines up with the mouth of the canyon.
Elliott said the lack of direct access to Weber Canyon would have been cut off by Hill Field in the early 1940s.
The 4500 West Street was dropped as a state route for a time starting in 1947, but when it became a state thoroughfare again, it was renamed U-110, being 3.5 miles long, and at an elevation of 4,230 feet.
U-107, or 300 North Street, was improved and officially designated as a state road in 1931, and offered eastern access off 4500 West.

(-Originally written by Lynn Arave and published in the Syracuse Islander, March 13, 2013.)

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