U.S. Route 89 in Utah - History


When US-89 was created in 1926, it only went as far north as Spanish Fork, where travelers could continue to Salt Lake City via US-91. The highway was extended north to the Canadian border near Glacier National Park in the mid-1930s, though a dispute between Utah and Idaho on the one side and Wyoming on the other was not settled until 1938. The American Association of State Highway Officials decided in favor of Utah and Idaho, placing US-89 on or near US-91 between Spanish Fork and Logan, where it split northeasterly to Yellowstone National Park. (US-89 only left US-91 twice: between Farmington and Ogden, where it still travels today, and via an all-weather route from Brigham City into the Cache Valley, now SR-38 and SR-30.) Wyoming's preferred routing, which left US-91 at Provo, instead became US-189. Beginning in the 1950s, Interstate 15 was constructed, replacing US-91 for through traffic south of Brigham City, and leading to that route's truncation there in 1974. On the other hand, US-89 follows independent corridors south of Spanish Fork and north of Logan. It has not been truncated, and mostly follows US-91's final alignment, except between Farmington and Ogden (where old US-91 is now I-15, SR-126, and SR-26).

The southern part of US-89, running northerly from Kanab, mostly follows a succession of linear valleys. The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad opened a branch (later the Marysvale Branch) from its main line at Thistle to Manti in 1890, and extended it (through a subsidiary, the Sevier Railway), to Salina in 1891, Belknap in 1896, and Marysvale in 1900. No rail line ever reached farther south, and so residents of towns such as Junction, Panguitch, Alton, Glendale, and Kanab had to travel north to the railhead at Marysvale. The old county road through Circleville Canyon was poorly constructed, with steep grades and a rough surface. The State Road Commission designated the highway from Nephi east through Salt Creek Canyon and then south through these valleys to Kanab as a state road in or soon after 1910. Initially the route from the summit at Long Valley Junction to Kanab went through Alton and Johnson Canyon, entering Kanab from the east. A more direct route via Long Valley was considered, serving the communities of Glendale, Orderville, and Mt. Carmel, but this would have required difficult construction over a mesa covered in loose sand to reach Kanab. In summer 1912, the commission added a branch from Long Valley Junction to Mt. Carmel, allowing these communities access to the state road system, along with a connection west from the junction to Cedar City. Several years later, in December 1915, the commission added the Mt. Carmel-Kanab road over the sand hills to the system, and began construction of a sand-clay road in 1916. A connection from Pigeon Hollow Junction north to Thistle was also added in 1912, following the rail line through a canyon and providing another route to Salt Lake City.

In 1919, the state legislature redefined the state road system to include only a short list given in the law and any federal aid projects. The entire route from Kanab north was kept, including both approaches to Kanab and the two roads to Nephi and Thistle. In addition, a short extension from Kanab south to Arizona was added. An amendment in 1923 removed most of the original route through Johnson Canyon, but added a second route to Alton from the west, effectively forming a large triangular loop through that town. (The old route from Alton south to Kanab would be re-added to the state road system in 1933 as SR-136.) In the early 1920s, the State Road Commission assigned numbers to several major state roads; the route from Arizona northerly through Kanab and Richfield to Nephi became State Route 11. The numbers were officially adopted by the legislature in 1927, with both the main route and the loop through Alton being defined as SR-11; a new State Route 32 followed the branch to Thistle. The Alton loop was removed from SR-11 in 1941, with the south half remaining in the system as part of SR-136. Despite these designations, the majority of SR-11 and all of SR-32 were instead marked as US-89, with the remainder of SR-11 between Pigeon Hollow Junction and Nephi marked as US-189 from about 1930 until 1938.

State Route 1, which became U.S. Route 91 in 1926, ran north–south through central and northern Utah in the 1920s. State Route 2 left SR-1 at Logan and ran east through Logan Canyon to Garden City; this had been built with federal aid as a forest road in about 1918. The road north from Garden City to Idaho was added to the system in 1921, and became part of State Route 3. In 1927, the legislature added State Route 49, an alternate southern entrance to Ogden that left SR-1 at Farmington and merged with SR-5 (US-30S) at Uintah. (Present SR-60 was numbered as a branch of SR-49 until 1935.) State Route 69, stretching from US-191 (now SR-13) just north of Brigham City north and east to US-91 in Logan, became a state highway in 1931. The 1930s extension of US-89 took it north from Thistle along US-50 (SR-8) to Springville, US-91 (SR-1 and SR-106, later all SR-1) to Farmington, SR-49 to Uintah, US-30S (SR-5) to Ogden, US-91 (SR-1) to Brigham City, SR-69 to Logan, SR-2 to Garden City, and SR-3 to Idaho. US-89 was removed from SR-69 and overlapped with US-91 between Brigham City and Logan in the mid-1950s.

In 1957, one year after construction began on the Glen Canyon Dam, the legislature designated a new State Route 259, heading east and southeast from SR-11 in Kanab to Arizona en route to the dam and adjacent bridge. This replaced about eight miles (13 km) of SR-136 (the original state highway from the 1910s) at its south end, but the remainder was a new roadway, through an area not previously served by improved roads. The route past the dam was initially designated as an alternate route of US-89, but when completed on February 20, 1959 it instead became US-89's mainline, as it was a better route during all weather, and the old route (SR-11 south of Kanab) became U.S. Route 89 Alternate.

Major numbering changes were made in Utah's state highway system in the 1960s and 1970s, beginning with the construction of Interstate Highways and culminating in the 1977 renumbering, where state route numbers concurrent with other types were dropped entirely. However, the majority of these changes were not visible to the public, as signs continued to display US-89 and other U.S. Routes and Interstates. The following changes were made to state routes related to US-89:

Route Pre-1962 Changes Post-1977
SR-1 Aligned with US-91 (not signed) 1962: moved to I-15 (no signage changes); specific changes are listed below Became I-15
SR-259 Arizona to SR-11 (US-89A) in Kanab (signed as US-89) no changes Replaced by US-89
SR-11 Arizona to Nephi (mostly US-89; only signed north of Pigeon Hollow Junction) 1969: cut back to SR-4 (future I-70) at Sevier (SR-11 signs were replaced with SR-132 signs north of Pigeon Hollow Junction); specific changes are listed below Arizona to Kanab
SR-258 Loop off US-89 through Central 1969: moved west to replace SR-11 (US-89) between Elsinore and SR-120 (signs were removed from the old route) Remained as temporary US-89
SR-120 N/A 1969: created as a business loop for future I-70 through Richfield, replacing SR-11 (US-89) (no signage changes) Remained as temporary US-89
SR-119 SR-11 (US-89) east to SR-24 1969: extended southwest over SR-11 (US-89) to SR-120 (no signage changes) SR-120 east to SR-24
SR-135 N/A 1969: replaced SR-11 (US-89) between SR-119 and SR-24 (no signage changes) Remained as temporary US-89
SR-24 SR-11 (US-89) southeast and northeast to I-70 1969: extended north over SR-11 (US-89) to SR-28 in Salina (no signage changes) US-50 near Salina southeast and northeast to I-70
SR-28 SR-11 in Gunnison north to Levan 1969: extended south over SR-11 (US-89) and proposed connection to I-70 (no signage changes) US-89 in Gunnison north to Levan (1969 extension replaced by US-89)
SR-32 SR-11 (US-89) at Pigeon Hollow Junction north to Thistle (signed as US-89) 1969: extended south over SR-11 (US-89) to SR-28 in Gunnison (no signage changes) Replaced by US-89
SR-132 Lynndyl to Nephi 1969: extended southeast over SR-11 to SR-32 (US-89) at Pigeon Hollow Junction (signs changed from SR-11 to SR-132 on extension) Lynndyl to US-89 at Pigeon Hollow Junction
SR-8 Colorado to SR-1 (US-91) in Springville (signed as US-6, US-50, and US-89) 1962: replaced by SR-4 (I-70) near the Colorado state line (no signage changes)
1964: replaced SR-1 (US-89/91) between Springville and Lehi (no signage changes)
1969: became SR-27 south of Moark Junction (no signage changes), leaving only Moark Junction to Lehi
Replaced by US-89
SR-271 N/A 1964: replaced SR-1 (US-89/91) through Salt Lake City, from Draper to Becks (no signage changes) Replaced by US-89
SR-169 N/A 1962: replaced SR-1 (US-89/91) from Becks to north Bountiful (no signage changes) Replaced by US-89
SR-49 SR-1 north to SR-3 (I-80N) near Uintah (signed as US-89) 1968: replaced SR-3 from Uintah to Ogden (no signage changes) Replaced by US-89
SR-50 N/A 1969: replaced SR-1 (US-89/91) from Roy through Ogden to Hot Springs Junction (no signage changes) Replaced by US-89 north of Ogden; Roy to Ogden (ex-US-91) became SR-26
SR-84 SR-1 in Roy to SR-1 at Hot Springs Junction 1962: replaced SR-1 (US-89/91, US-191) from Hot Springs Junction to Riverside (no signage changes)
1969: replaced SR-1 (US-91) from Layton to Roy (no signage changes)
Replaced by US-89 from Hot Springs Junction to Brigham City; Layton to Hot Springs Junction became SR-126 and Brigham City to Riverside became SR-13
SR-85 N/A 1962: replaced SR-1 (US-89/91) from Brigham City to Idaho (no signage changes) Replaced by US-91 (partly concurrent with US-89)
SR-13 N/A 1962: replaced SR-2 (US-89) from Logan to Garden City (no signage changes) Replaced by US-89
SR-16 N/A 1962: replaced SR-3 (partly US-89) from Wyoming to Idaho (signage south of Garden City changed from SR-3 to SR-16) Wyoming to SR-30 at Sage Creek Junction (replaced by SR-30 and US-89 north of Sage Creek Junction)

In particular, SR-11 was cut back to only the roadway south from Kanab, which had become US-89A in 1959.

Read more about this topic:  U.S. Route 89 In Utah

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