Holiday traffic, ongoing construction expected to cause significant delays on Utah roads

Published: Friday, July 1 2011 1:11 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Officials are anticipating up to two-hour delays on some of Utah's roadways through the holiday weekend.

Travelers heading through Utah County, where construction is ongoing for the Utah Department of Transportation's I-15 CORE project, will be most affected as lanes will remain restricted and/or narrowed at times, lane shifts will exist and reduced speed limits will continue.

While no new construction activities are scheduled to take place over the weekend on the CORE project, drivers are encouraged to be prepared for the delays due to an anticipated higher volume of traffic, specifically today as thousands will be attending the nearby Stadium of Fire event at LaVell Edwards Stadium and the Freedom Festival on Monday.

UDOT spokeswoman Tania Mashburn said the best way for motorists to reduce delays and travel safely through work zones is to stay informed.

"Drivers can sign up for construction updates via email or text message, follow UDOT on Facebook or Twitter, check out real-time traffic cameras with CommuterLink cameras and visit the UDOT website, at udot.utah.gov," she said.

At the beginning of the busy summer travel season, UDOT, in partnership with the Utah Office of Tourism, announced a program offering special discounts and rates to motorists who decide to leave a day earlier or stay a day later. A list of offers is available online, at www.udot.utah.gov/stayanextraday.

Drivers taking advantage of the Stay an Extra Day program helped to reduce delays by more than an hour over Memorial Day weekend, according to UDOT's Utah County region public information officer Scott Thompson.

He said the best times to travel on I-15 in Utah County are before noon, to avoid encountering heavy delays through the 24-mile construction zone.

According to AAA, more than 2.9 million people living in the Mountain West states of Utah, California and Nevada, are projected to travel 50 miles or more from their homes this weekend. That is a 2.4 percent decrease compared to last year at the same time.

"Travelers are definitely feeling the budgetary squeeze this year," says AAA Utah spokeswoman Cynthia Harris. "Although some Mountain West residents may be postponing their travel plans, many others are bucking the economic headwinds by opting for shorter vacations and by cutting back on travel expenditures in order to afford a weekend getaway."

Nationally, on one of the busiest holidays of the year, AAA forecasts just over 39 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the Fourth of July weekend, representing a 2.5 percent decrease compared to last year.

Harris said ongoing high gas prices, existing unemployment concerns, as well as increased airfare costs are some of the reasons people are planning to spend the weekend home. Of those planning to travel, a AAA survey reveals that the primary leisure activities for Mountain West residents celebrating the nation's birthday will be dining, visiting family and friends, shopping and sightseeing.

Approximately 30 percent of Mountain West residents said they will be traveling with family members.

Mashburn said safety is a top priority for UDOT officials. She encourages motorists to abide by speed limit and seat belt laws in any area of travel.

Email: wleonard@desnews.com

Twitter: wendyleonards

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