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Blockbuster moment in Layton history: When I-15 opened in 1966
One of the most significant changes ever in Layton City happened on Nov. 23, 1966, when I-15 opened.
Initially going from the south end of Layton to Ogden, this section of freeway meant that Main Street (Highway 91) would no longer be so clogged with congestion during Hill Air Force Base shift changes.
Some 15,000 workers were employed at Hill AFB back then.
“The people of Ogden and vicinity will welcome the elimination of one of Utah’s most serious traffic bottlenecks,” Ernest H. Balch, Chairman of the Utah State Road Commission, said of I-15’s completion.
Work on I-15 from Ogden Layton began in 1964 and required three years. The six-mile segment of I-15 through Layton to Sunset alone cost $2.13 million
Besides clearing up traffic congestion, the presence of the freeway meant another big change: suburban development was now encouraged by a shortened travel time to Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah’s largest cities at the time.
“The communities along the freeway's route rightly envisioned a new incentive for growth,” Glen M. Leonard stated in his book, “A History of Davis County.”
“The Federal Interstate Highway Act of 1956, which also expanded federal subsidies for major state highways, launched the national highway system during the Eisenhower administration. Washington paid 95 percent of the costs, making construction of the Davis County section not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’” Leonard wrote.
North of Layton, the freeway also followed the abandoned Bamberger Railroad line, meaning there was less impact of existing development.
Layton City also experienced other changes because of the new interstate highway. Some homes had to be moved or demolished to make room for the six-lane highway.
Gordon Avenue was particularly changed forever, by being disconnected by I-15 and split in an eastern and a western section.
In addition, Layton City itself seemed forever split by the busy interstate slicing through town. There was now the west side of I-15 and the east side of I-15 in the city.
The final section of I-15, located from the south end of Layton to Lagoon, would not be completed until 11 years after the rest, however.
This $10 million project expanded the old Highway 91. With this route open through Davis County, motorists could then travel on an uninterrupted freeway from Box Elder to Juab counties.
The freeway’s presence also eventually spurred economic growth in Layton, including the addition of the Layton Hills Mall in 1980, boasting convenient I-15 access.
Sources: “A History of Davis County,” by Glen M. Leonard; Ogden Standard-Examiner Archives; Davis County Clipper Archives.