SUMMIT COUNTY — Nearly five years ago, the Utah Department of Transportation pioneered a new method for building bridges. Forty bridges later, that innovative technique has become their standard — and something other transportation agencies are looking to replicate.
UDOT will complete the second and final phase of improvements this weekend by moving another bridge on I-80 near Wanship in Summit County, which will force a 24-hour closure of the freeway beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The bridge will be installed over State Route 32.
“Last week we closed the westbound side, this week we’re closing the eastbound side," said UDOT spokesman Adan Carillo. “We are encouraging people to take I-84 through Ogden as a detour.”
The Wanship bridge will be the agency's 40th such move, and crews from other states still fly in to watch because this method reduces long-term traffic delays.
"We learn something new every time we do it," said UDOT deputy director Tim Rose. "We are always improving, we're making adjustments."
UDOT first started building bridges in bridge farms next to the road in 2007. Crews would build the deck off to the side, then move it into place — the current standard for UDOT.
Carillo said the expedited bridge installation helps reduce the impact on motorists, especially truckers.
With about 2,500 trucks using the I-80 corridor each day, a full, 24-hour interstate closure might be more convenient for most drivers, but it's an economic issue for truckers and other businesses because time is money.
"The less time you're stuck in traffic, the more time you can run and keep moving,” said Wayne Cederholm of C.R. England Global Trucking. “Keeping the wheels turning is the way to make money,"
Truckers prefer the accelerated bridge building, and UDOT estimates this closure will save the trucking industry approximately $150,000 in economic impact.
"It saves them time and effort and moving freight, and that's our business," said Terry Smith, with the Utah Trucking Association.