Steve Landeen, Deseret News
OREM — It could be one of the last major disruptions to traffic in Utah County, as crews work to finish the I-15 CORE Project by the end of the year.
But until then, drivers can expect to see delays.
For the next two weeks, southbound I-15 from 200 South in Lindon to University Parkway in Orem is down to three lanes, while crews finish pouring concrete.
The problem is traffic is bottle-necking and backing up throughout most of the day, especially during the evening commute.
"It's pretty hectic, and there's a lot of detours," said contractor Julian Castillo. "I have to be to a job site on time and with all the detours, it's a headache."
And as for commuters, most of them know exactly where they'll have to slow down due to traffic.
"Every time you are coming through the American Fork area, you get that every time," said Kyle Haskell. "And I'm tired of waiting an hour and a half every day to get from Salt Lake back down to Utah County. I understand it is needed, but I'm tired of it."
The Utah Department of Transportation is aware that the lane closures are adding several minutes to southbound traffic. "We just ask that people plan for some extra travel time, particularly during those morning and evening commute hours," said UDOT spokeswoman Muriel Xochimitl.
She recommends drivers use Geneva Road and State Street as alternate routes.
A few freeway exits opening up soon should help minimize some traffic delays. Half of the 1600 North interchange will be open by the end of the week, and the interchanges at 800 North and Center Street won't require any more major closures. For the latest on the project, go to I15core.utah.gov.
The I-15 CORE Project by Provo River Constructors is now the fastest billion-dollar highway project in U.S. history, according to UDOT. It covers a 24-mile stretch of I-15, from Lehi to Spanish Fork. Crews have added two lanes in each direction. The state originally expected to pay $1.725 billion for the project. Now the final tab is pegged at $1.495 billion.
UDOT officials attribute the cost savings to careful quality-control procedures that assured the lowest possible price on every line item. They also said the project has had a low number of contract change orders.
UDOT promises wide open, gridlock-free traffic will be a reality in as little as two months from now. That’s a month earlier than the expected completion date of December. UDOT officials said the contractor is working hard to meet the challenge issued by Gov. Gary Herbert that the construction be completed by Thanksgiving.
"We are 90 percent done now," said Xochimitl, "but we still have a ways to go before the end of the year."
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