Unlike earlier summer holidays this year when vacationers faced hours of delay from construction, drivers should have fairly clear sailing on Utah highways this Labor Day weekend.
"This one seems light compared to the other holidays," says Mindy Nelson, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Transportation. "Most of our crews won't be working over the Labor Day holiday."
During Memorial Day, July Fourth and Pioneer Day, UDOT accurately warned of two-hour-plus delays at peak holiday travel times in Utah County where Interstate 15 is being rebuilt. Much of that project, but not all, is complete as the summer construction season winds down.
"Where we are so close to being complete, hopefully it will be an easier commute for everyone over the holiday," Nelson said. Helping with that is this week's reopening of the Orem Center Street interchange in Utah County.
"Through the holiday, there won't be a lot of closures down there. But right after Labor Day, we are going to start work on the [Orem] 1600 North interchange, and we will be completely closing that interchange for 15 days for paving," she said.
More than 2.4 million Mountain West residents are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home during the three-day Labor Day weekend an increase of 3.2 percent over last year, according to a survey by the AAA travel services company.
"While many Mountain West residents are still caught in fragile economic affairs, they will be traveling but cutting back on other expenses," says AAA Utah spokeswoman Rolayne Fairclough.
"Those surveyed expect to cut back on shopping, take a shorter trip, travel by an alternative mode of transportation, and stay with family and friends to avoid higher expenditures over the holiday weekend," she said.
AAA says a typical Mountain West family of four expects to spend $596 over the weekend, and the average road trip is predicted to cover 905 miles. It said regular, unleaded gasoline in the Salt Lake City-Ogden metro area was averaging $3.62 a gallon on Thursday, up from $3.35 a month ago and $3.49 a year ago.
Nelson outlined a few areas where construction could cause problems this weekend and urged residents to check udot.utah.gov for detailed construction plans that could affect their individual travel. Among the major projects that could cause delays are:
I-84 in Weber Canyon • Between Mountain Green and Morgan, the freeway is restricted to one lane in each direction for paving.
I-70 near Cove Fort •In Clear Creek Canyon bordering Millard and Sevier counties, "We have it reduced from two lanes to one in each direction. That's a hot spot to be aware of," Nelson said.
US-89 west of Lake Powell •About 10 miles west of the lake, lane restrictions and minor delays are possible through Friday for road maintenance.
University Parkway in Orem •A widening project between State Street and 800 East will narrow the roadway to two lanes in each direction.