Spring is in the air, so orange cones coming to highways
Besides spring flowers, a bumper crop of orange construction cones is about to blossom throughout Utah on its highways.
"We're planning about 175 projects this summer," costing more than $800 million, Utah Department of Transportation spokeswoman Elizabeth Weight said Wednesday. "Our crews will be busy."
Projects range from adding express lanes to Interstate 15 in Davis County expected to cause major disruptions to repaving I-80 in Parleys Canyon, building another freeway-like interchange on Bangerter Highway in Riverton and adding more newfangled "diverging diamond" interchanges on freeways.
"This year will be comparable to last year in terms of how many projects we are doing and the impacts people can expect," Weight said, adding that is much less than two years ago when I-15 was rebuilt in Utah County.
Most projects this year will be smaller maintenance work, instead of major expansions, she said. "They take less time. We are able to do night work so they cause less impact. So even though there are a lot of projects, we're doing our best to stay out of people's way."
But UDOT released a list of the Top 10 construction projects for this year that may cause delays. They include:
• I-15 in south Davis County: Crews will extend express lanes from North Salt Lake to Farmington, and replace several bridges. UDOT says the project could result in gridlock unless 20 percent of drivers choose alternatives.
The agency encourages motorists to use the parallel Legacy Parkway, or ride FrontRunner trains. UDOT and the Utah Transit Authority plan to offer reduced-cost transit passes later to help divert some traffic during construction. The $117 million project is scheduled to begin this month and is expected to be completed in 2015.
• Bangerter Highway in Riverton: UDOT plans to convert the present interchange at Redwood Road into a freeway interchange. It will be similar to an earlier interchange built at 7800 South and Bangerter. The $42 million project is expected to begin this summer and last about a year.
• Diverging diamonds: UDOT is adding its sixth and seventh interchanges with the unusual design in south Cedar City and Brigham City.
They eliminate a left-turn signal cycle and thus speed traffic by having traffic cross onto the "wrong" left-hand side of the road while passing over or under another highway before returning to the "right" side of the road. Such interchanges are at SR-201 and Bangerter Highway in Salt Lake County, and at SR-92 and I-15 in Highland in Utah County.
The $10 million Cedar City project is expected to cause enough delays that Weight says travelers headed to St. George or Zion National Park "should get our traffic app and check for construction delays before traveling through that area." Construction on both interchanges is under way, and expected to be completed this fall.
• I-80 in Parleys Canyon: UDOT will resurface the freeway from the mouth of the canyon to Ranch Exit 132. It will start in the summer and be completed by fall.
• I-80 in Summit County: New concrete pavement will be installed from Silver Creek Junction to Wanship, and a bridge will be replaced. The $43 million project is expected to begin in June and be completed next year.
• SR-201 in Salt Lake County: Crews will place new concrete pavement between 5600 West and 9450 West, and widen ramps at 5600 West. Work on the $20 million project is expected to begin later this month, and be completed by fall.
• Riverdale Road in Roy: The $24 million project already under way will replace asphalt with new concrete pavement, add new ramps at I-15 and construct two new intersections and a bridge over the freeway. It is expected to be finished this fall.
• State Street in Salt Lake City: UDOT will repave State Street from 400 South to 3300 South. Crews will also do some reconstruction work. The $4 million project is scheduled to begin later this month and be wrapped up this fall.
• US-40 in Uinta Basin: UDOT will extend passing lanes near Daniels Summit and Vernal; repave near Fort Duchesne and Jensen; and upgrade lighting in Roosevelt. The $13 million project is under way and is scheduled for completion by fall.
With all the construction, Weight said, "We remind people to be cautious in construction zones. We have lower speed limits there for good reason. There are lots of distractions and lanes are narrower, and we want drivers and our crews to be safe."