Holiday travel could mean delays, particularly in Utah County

Published: Thursday, Sept. 1 2011 5:21 p.m. MDT

Traffic begins to back up in Utah County Friday, May 27, 2011 leading up to Memorial Day Weekend. UDOT is anticipating 2 hour delays in Utah County.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The last long holiday weekend of the summer may be a slow crawl for some Utah drivers trying to make a fast getaway.

Thousands are expected to pack state roadways this Labor Day, but some will find the going rather sluggish as they navigate through ongoing construction projects, particularly in Utah County.

In an effort to limit the traffic heartache, the Utah Department of Transportation announced no new work activities would begin over Labor Day weekend, however, existing narrowed lanes and restrictions remain on Utah County’s I-15 CORE project that may cause delays.

"That's the main area we're concerned about," said UDOT spokeswoman Tania Mashburn. "Engineers are predicting one to two hour delays … from Lehi to Spanish Fork during the peak travel times."

Mashburn advised drivers to schedule travel before 3 p.m. on Thursday or before 11 a.m. on Friday and to return Monday either before 1 p.m. or after 9 p.m. to reduce the chance of getting caught in heavy delays through the 24-mile construction zone.

Among the projects with the most significant restrictions in place statewide this weekend are I-15 in Orem, where the far right lane on southbound I-15 is closed between the on- and off-ramps at the 1600 North interchange. UDOT said that unless drivers are exiting at the interchange, vehicles should stay in the three left lanes.

In Provo, the southbound I-15 off-ramp to Provo Center Street will be closed for reconstruction. All other ramps at that interchange will remain open. To access west Provo, Utah Lake State Park or the Provo airport, motorists should take University Parkway to Geneva Road. Drivers are advised to avoid University Parkway during normal commute hours to reduce heavy delays in the area.

Also in Orem, northbound I-15 is currently split into two sections from University Parkway to 200 South in Lindon to allow crews to perform bridge and road construction in the middle of the freeway without closing any lanes of traffic. While all four lanes continue northbound on I-15, drivers exiting at Orem Center Street, 800 North and 1600 North are advised to stay in the right two lanes, though trucks may use all lanes.

Drivers can view how the lane splits work on YouTube. The project is scheduled for completion in December of next year, Mashburn said.

The cost of traveling this Labor Day will be significantly higher due to increased fuel prices over the past 12 months.

AAA Utah reported that the current price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.56 compared to $2.92 per gallon this time last year. The price of diesel fuel jumped even more from $3.02 per gallon at this time last year, up to $3.86 per gallon this year.

To help mitigate traffic congestion and to support in-state travel this weekend, UDOT is encouraging drivers to leave a day earlier or stay a day longer. UDOT and the Utah Office of Tourism have partnered with travel venues statewide to offer discounts for those who extend their stay over holiday and summer weekends.

To view all “Stay an Extra Day” offers, visit udot.utah.gov/stayanextraday. For the latest road information, visit udot.utah.gov and click on the "Know Where Know Why" tab.

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

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