Roadwork on Salt Lake City’s 300 West was supposed to be done by now. After 19 months, the heavy machinery, orange cones, closed lanes and backed-up traffic were supposed to be in the rearview mirror.
Alas, they aren’t.
But after a litany of unexpected challenges caused workers to miss the originally anticipated November 2022 completion date, motorists and area businesses can expect relief next summer.
“It’s important to understand that it is very fluid,” project spokesperson Stacee Adams warned. “Weather really impacts construction.”
Crews are finishing concrete driveways and sidewalks but have paused roadwork for the winter. Workers hope to start up again in March, if the weather cooperates, and end the project before August.
Persistent problems caused delays
A laundry list of complications pushed back expected completion of the project — launched in April 2021 — more than half a year.
Adams said workers found a second concrete roadway under 1300 South in 2021 that had to be removed to complete utility work in the area.
“When we hit that,” she said, “that was a complete surprise.”
Crews also found oil and gas contamination in the intersection of 2100 South that took several weeks to clean up. All of the soil, Adams said, needed to be removed and replaced.
A nearly century-old waterline under 300 West has caused headaches for construction crews, too. Work on that line is delicate and has slowed progress.
Meanwhile, coordination with third-party utilities, such as fiber and cable providers, led to additional delays.
This year, the project was dogged by a concrete shortage, resulting in an 80% reduction in the amount of concrete workers were able to pour.
And, like many other industries, the project fought labor shortages.
“We just didn’t have enough people,” Adams said, “to get the work done.”
Despite all of those setbacks, the project is 80% to 85% complete, City Engineer Mark Stephens said, and still within budget.
After crews pave the roadway between 1300 South and 1700 South, only one more major segment remains: the east side of 300 West between 900 South and 1300 South.
Stephens said the final patch does not contain any water utility work, so the makeover should be smoother than other areas.
Business owners brace for continued work
But the homestretch still has some business owners feeling anxious about how their shops will be affected.
Ken Roderman, owner of The Dough Miner at 945 S. 300 West, worries customers will lose access to his restaurant’s front door for months when construction picks up again in the spring. He is bracing to operate solely on pickup and delivery orders.
“I truly don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “We may just have to close up, which I would do, but then you lose the staff. "
Roderman said he chose this location partly because he won approval to make the parking in front of his restaurant 15-minute pickup spaces. He fears that losing those spots in favor of a bike lane is going to hurt his business.
“If I survive it, losing the front door for two or three months, however long it’s going to take, when it comes out the other end, my customers can’t park in front of my business,” he said. “They’re going to park around the corner. Some will; some won’t.”
The city is offering grants up to $2,000 for businesses that are affected by construction, but Roderman said that won’t do much to help him if he has to close for months.
Adams, the project’s spokesperson, said the sidewalk in front of The Dough Miner is newer and may not need to be replaced. But if it does, she said, between excavation, grading and pouring new concrete, access to the restaurant’s front door is anticipated to be interrupted for a couple of days at most.
Worth the wait?
Stephens said he knows construction isn’t easy, but even though the last segment will cause the congestion and delays that come with any roadway project, it won’t seal off access to shops and homes.
And, he said, the city is committed to accommodating the needs of those affected, whether through the grant program, resource guides, or helping with signs.
Once it’s all done, he said, traveling or owning a business on 300 West will be a better experience.
“The final product is really going to be a road that’s smoother and easier to drive,” he said, “have the utilities and infrastructure to support economic development along the corridor, and offer safer and more convenient ways to get around for cyclists, pedestrians and people with disabilities.”
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