Impacts of the Hazard

One of Stansbury’s oldest and tallest structures is a definite outlier. Most buildings in Stanbsury were built after 1970 and are one or two stories.

Stansbury is a relatively new community with very few old structures and even fewer tall structures. This is good news for mitigating quake damage. Two of our four elementary schools are new just in the  last year and the other four schools in the area are all younger than 35 years old.

However, Tooele County has a high ratio of working adults who commute—with the median commute being 28 minutes (8). This means a high percentage of residents work in Salt Lake City, while their children are in local schools.

Only Interstate 80 connects Salt Lake County to Tooele County—and it does so on a narrow strip of land that separates the Great Salt Lake from the Oquirrh Mountains. This single roadway is vulnerable to earthquake damage for several reasons:

1. Soil liquefaction at any point could undermine I-80.

2. If the 1200 foot Kennecott Smelter Stack collapsed, it could block I-201 which would push more congestion onto I-80.

3. The overpass that connects I-201 to I-80 crosses over the top of I-80. If it were to fail, I-80 would be blocked.

4. The off-ramp from I-80 to Tooele County is also an overpass that transverses I-80 westbound traffic. If this were to partially fail, traffic would rerouted to the next exit, 10 miles away. If it were to fail in such a way that it blocked I-80, all traffic would cease.

In the aftermath of a large earthquake, a failure at any of these points could cut off hundreds of children from their parents for hours or days.

More importantly, a compromised interstate would isolate the county from emergency responders, leaving the entire population to be served by the area’s single hospital and scattering of fire stations—many of which are volunteer-staffed.

2010 census data puts the Tooele County population at 60,000 and Stansbury Park population at 5,100(8). However, the county has been among nation’s top ten fastest growing counties, so current estimates put the county’s size at 67,456 residents (10) and Stansbury Park’s population closer to 6,000.

Suburban Stats reports 809 households in Stansbury having one or more children(11). If half of Stansbury parents commute outside the county—a conservative estimate—schools could potentially be responsible for sheltering and/or finding medical care for a minimum of 400 children.

The vast majority of commuting traffic is via personal car. Source: