The Rose Park Brown Berets held a bike ride Saturday to protest against an expansion of I-15.
Bike bells rang and music played in the parking lot of Rose Park Elementary as residents from across Salt Lake City’s west side demonstrated against the expansion of Interstate 15.
The extension, planned by the Utah Department of Transportation, would extend from Shepard Lane in Farmington to 400 South in Salt Lake City. The department estimated that an I-15 upgrade would cost about $1.6 billion, which lawmakers initially approved.
Although real estate acquisitions are uncertain at this time, the project would likely involve 24 residential properties in Salt Lake City, as well as three commercial properties and one historic building. For most locations along the corridor, UDOT advocated an expansion that would include five general lanes, one express lane, and one auxiliary lane in designated areas in each direction.
Saturday’s event included a bike ride attended by over 20 residents, complete with signs attached to the bikes reading “Youth vs. UDOT” and “Don’t Mount Us” to raise awareness that the community doesn’t want the expansion, Cantua said, and the implications that come with it.
“Throughout history, expansions have displaced many people — especially people of color,” said Qiru Cantua, a Rose Park Brown Berets member who organized the event. “When we looked at the map of the freeway, we saw that there were a few places that we know personally and that are close to our hearts from our private lives… There are other solutions than the freeway expansion, because they don’t work.”
When Salt Lake City’s first section of the freeway was built in 1959, it also forced residents to leave their homes — some of whom may have had to relocate due to further expansion.
“It’s racist. It’s redlining,” Cantua said. “It’s a story we have to explain over and over again and we’re sick of it. And this is just one of the ways we plan to raise awareness and build solidarity with the community and continue the work.”
The next step in the UDOT process is a draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will be published in the fall. The statement will provide further details on the impact and further analysis of the project and will include a public hearing and comment period.
Joey Rios, who has lived in Rose Park all his life, said the proposed expansion would jeopardize many areas steeped in childhood memories.
“It’s going to tear down our homes — lots of people’s homes — and the air pollution is going to make everyone sick,” Rio told the crowd. “… [Right now] The area is very nice, fairly quiet throughout the day – there are no construction sites like there are in any other city at the moment. That’s what I love most about it – it’s beautiful.”
— Tribune reporter Alixel Cabrera contributed to this story.