It's about 10 months late and the contractor has been fined nearly $4.5 million for the delay but new commuter lanes opened Saturday on the Timpanogos Highway, State Route 92, between Lehi and Highland.
One commuter lane in each direction adjacent to the main roadway will travel over or under crossroads to avoid traffic signals for 4 miles. They will also have a speed limit of 55 mph, compared to the 50 mph limit on the main roadway (which has two lanes in each direction).
Unlike express or carpool lanes, the commuter lanes are open to all traffic and do not require more than one rider. Commercial trucks are also allowed there. The lanes are the first of their kind in Utah.
The Timpanogos Highway expansion project was required by contract to be completed by Oct. 20, 2011. The contractor, Flatiron/Harper Joint Venture, has been fined $15,000 a day since then for delays.
With the opening of the commuter lanes, Utah Department of Transportation spokeswoman Heather Barnum said the project is now considered "substantially complete," and the daily fines will end.
"The liquidated damages to date come to $4.425 million, which has been deducted from the contractor's invoices," Barnum said.
The overall project cost $170 million and included expanding the main roadway to four lanes plus a turning lane, adding the commuter lanes and reworking a "diverging diamond" interchange at the highway's connection to Interstate 15.
Many of the delays resulted from UDOT forcing the contractor to replace or fix several components from pavement to drainage systems to bridges that did not meet state specifications.
"We've been making sure that the public gets what it pays for and that this is a road that will last for decades to come," Barnum said.
Of note, Flatiron was part of a consortium that was paid $13 million by UDOT in 2010 when it contended it was cheated out of a $1.1 billion contract to rebuild I-15 in Utah County. That project went to another consortium which had made big contributions to Gov. Gary Herbert after UDOT tweaked original scoring of bid proposals.
Even though the Timpanogos project is now considered "substantially complete," Barnum said, "we will for the next several months still have some shoulder work, some punch-list items and some intermittent nighttime lane restrictions" as some repairs and finishing touches continue.