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Utah Department of Transportation crews are gearing up for a busy spring and summer of road construction in Utah Valley and the Uinta Basin.

The five major projects in UDOT's Region 3, covering the north-central part of the state, will cost a combined total of more than $83 million.

The most significant of those projects, by far, is in Utah County. It involves reconstruction of U.S. 189 in Provo Canyon. UDOT will widen a five-mile segment of the road between the dam and the Sundance Resort turn-off from two lanes to five.

"This is a fairly big program for the county down here," said Region 3 director Tracy Conti.

"Provo Canyon is definitely the glamour project, to say the least. I don't know if it's the biggest one going on in Utah now, probably U-201 (in Salt Lake County) is bigger as far as dollars are concerned, but as far as the technical work, on Provo Canyon — we've got a structure that's going to span 500 feet and a couple hundred feet above the ground right where the road will tie into the dam. It's going to be an engineering marvel."

Here is a closer look at those major projects, the traffic impacts associated with them and their ultimate benefits:

U.S. 189, Provo Canyon — Nighttime closures will be necessary, Monday through Friday, 10 p.m.-6 a.m. Those could be complete shutdowns of the five-mile construction zone or periods of one-way traffic with flaggers at either end.

Work already is under way, and "our goal is to have all lanes open by September of '06," Conti said, adding traffic delays and impacts should be less next summer compared to this year.

Motorists can receive updated information on traffic delays and construction schedules by listening to AM-1300 on their car radios. UDOT also will use electronic message boards — placed on either end of the project and as far away as Duchesne — to keep the public informed.

UDOT plans not only to increase capacity but to improve safety and environmental impacts.

"We are moving away from the river, so the road will not be right next to the river anymore," Conti said. "We will get rid of numerous substandard curves and increase the sight distance. We will be able to increase the speed limit to 55 or 60 (mph)."

The Provo River trail will be extended as part of the project.

This is the fourth and final construction segment in the canyon itself. More work on the highway is planned in the future, all the way to Heber.

I-15, exit 275, 800 North in Orem — Crews will relocate the east-side frontage road farther to the east, away from I-15.

"Right now, (the frontage road and freeway are) separated by about 50 feet, so we can't signalize the ramp and frontage road," Conti said. "By moving the frontage road to the east, we can signalize both and, in phase two next year, we will widen 800 North to seven lanes — it's five lanes now," from 400 West to 1000 East.

"It'll improve I-15 by the 800 North offramp. . . . It's a big-time safety concern right now."

I-15, exit 265, Springville — UDOT will finish replacing the existing interchange, but few traffic impacts are expected because the new bridge is being built adjacent to the old one.

"There will be some nighttime closures to replace the beams — two nights max," Conti said. "But it will not be a huge detour. Probably three or four minutes (of delay) is all."

When completed, the bridge above I-15 will be wider with five lanes of traffic instead of the existing two. That bridge now experiences the "worst" traffic congestion of any bridge in the county, Conti said.

U-92, I-15 to 1200 West in Lehi — UDOT will convert a two-lane road into a five-lane highway beginning at 1200 West in Lehi, near the Alpine exit, and continuing east for about a mile-and-a-half. The goal is to reduce congestion in the area.

The frontage road will be moved to the east, and a signalized interchange will be created. Traffic restrictions are expected to be minimal, with two lanes open throughout, "but there will be times when it will be kind of messy when the frontage road is being relocated," Conti said.

U.S. 40, Ballard to Jensen — UDOT will repave a 22-mile section of the highway but will limit its scope of work to about two miles at a time to minimize delays.

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Only one lane will be open, however, and cars will be flagged through the construction zone, one direction at a time.

"We will probably work 12 to 14 hours a day," Conti said. "We anticipate probably about two minutes of delay."

The work is necessary to keep the pavement in good shape, Conti said.

"The road is not shot, but it is at a point where if we do take a little off and overlay it, we'll get another 20 years out of it," Conti said. "Whereas, if we waited for the pavement to completely fail, we'd have to completely reconstruct it.

"You save money, and the road lasts longer."



E-mail: zman@desnews.com