Road projects focus on N. Utah, Cache

Biggest jobs scheduled for U.S. 89 between Logan and Bear Lake

Published: Monday, March 28 2005 12:11 a.m. MST

For so many summers, it seemed, the emphasis of Utah's annual road construction program was the Salt Lake Valley.

But with I-15 reconstruction a fading memory and Davis County's proposed Legacy Parkway still on the horizon, many of the big projects planned for the upcoming construction season will take place outside the Wasatch Front.

For Salt Lake-area motorists, that means the impacts to traffic will be felt farther down the road — like on the way to Bear Lake, for example. Cache County and northern Utah will be the site of several major construction projects planned by the Utah Department of Transportation.

"This is a very heavy construction season for us up in Region 1," said UDOT Region 1 director Cory Pope. "So much so that it's taxing our resources. We are actually looking to the other regions in the state for construction help — construction oversight assistance."

The two most expensive and expansive projects will take place on U.S. 89 between Logan and Bear Lake.

One is a $7.5 million project set to begin in June that will include three bridge replacements and the addition of a pedestrian underpass just east of Logan.

The second and larger U.S. 89 project will occur at the eastern end of the state, where UDOT will spend $21.5 million for highway improvements that include a reconstruction of the Bear Lake overlook and rest area.

"We're actually treating that as a single corridor," Pope said of the two U.S. 89 projects. "We're putting together a public information manager for this project — a third-party consultant — to help us get information out to the public on more of a statewide vantage point because it's such a highly used recreation area that we want to get the word out a little more widespread."

Here are brief descriptions and expected traffic impacts for the six major 2005 projects planned within the boundaries of UDOT's Region 1:

U.S. 89 at Garden City, Bear Lake —UDOT will reconstruct a seven-mile segment from the Bear Lake Summit to Garden City.

Due to the high volume of recreational traffic expected, UDOT is requiring its contractor to keep one lane open in each direction from Friday at 3 p.m. through Sunday night. The contractor has informed UDOT it will attempt to avoid working at all on Fridays. Still, the going could be slow for would-be vacationers.

"It doesn't always mean they are going to be traveling on a paved surface. It could be 15 mph through that (one-lane) section," Pope said, adding that only two or three miles of the road will be worked on at one time, keeping delays to 10 or 15 minutes most weekends.

"Now, during the week when construction activities are going full swing, those delays could be upwards of an hour. And the reason for that is we will have limited one-way traffic throughout a good portion of the project."

Some full road closures will be necessary during off-peak hours.

The biggest benefit of the project, Pope said, will be the safety improvements throughout the canyon.

"We're adding passing lanes on uphill portions so, in sections, there will be a three-lane section of highway," he said. "We are flattening a lot of the curves so you'll get much better sight distance. That has been a lot of the problem — people get going too fast and hit some of these hard curves, and we've had a fairly high accident history up in that canyon over the years."

U.S. 89, Logan Canyon — Several old bridges will be replaced and some minor road-widening will take place with traffic sometimes restricted to just one lane with delays of 15 to 20 minutes. However, UDOT hopes to limit construction — and traffic restrictions — to one bridge at a time.

The new bridges will be wider, and therefore safer, and the current potholes will be gone, Pope noted.

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