TAYLORSVILLE — Beginning on Wednesday, west side drivers will encounter a new way to travel around the Salt Lake Valley.

The Utah Department of Transportation is scheduled to open Utah’s first flex lanes system located on 5400 South between Redwood Road and Bangerter Highway.

Flex lanes are a congestion-management tool used to accommodate heavy rush hour traffic by alternating the direction of the lanes during peak hours of the day. As part of UDOT’s program to improve east-west mobility on the west side of the valley, flex lanes will allow an additional lane when needed without the impacts associated with roadway widening.

Last week UDOT traffic engineers turned on the overhead lane indicator lights to allow the public to get familiar with the new system, although motorists did not have to make any lane transitions.

Flex lanes will provide four eastbound lanes, a center turn lane and two westbound lanes during the morning rush hour. That configuration will be reversed for the evening commute with four westbound lanes, a center turn lane and two eastbound lanes.

Electronic overhead signs, spaced about 500 feet apart, will indicate the direction in which traffic is flowing for each lane. Green arrows indicate lanes that are open for drivers, while a red “X” indicates that this is an opposing traffic lane. A yellow “X” will indicate a lane is in transition and that drivers need to merge right, while turning arrows indicate the center turn lane.

Drivers will have plenty of time to merge out of the transitioning lanes before they change direction, a UDOT official explained.

Comment on this story

“Flex lanes will allow us to open a lane when we need it, where we need it,” said UDOT project manager Brandon Weston. “Their implementation will efficiently improve traffic flow along 5400 South between Redwood Road and Bangerter Highway”.

UDOT said the new lane configuration is designed to be a safe and effective way to ease traffic congestion during the morning and evening rush hour. Flex lanes will be monitored and controlled from the UDOT Traffic Operations Center control room.

Visit www.udot.utah.gov/flexlanes[/ls for more information, or call the project hotline at 877-550-9346.

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1