PARLEYS CANYON — The Utah Department of Transportation is starting work on one of its biggest projects of the summer.
At the mouth of Parleys Canyon on I-80, it will replace a two-mile section of a massive metal pipe 8 feet in diameter that carries Parleys Creek under the interstate. The old pipe, which is 30 to 40 feet below the freeway in places, is failing, UDOT said.
"(It's) over 50 years old right now, and many sections of the pipe are deteriorated quite substantially," said Tim Rose, UDOT's Region 2 deputy director.
Over the next five months, UDOT will spend $9.5 million to replace that culvert.
"It will be off the side of the road, so it will be easier to clean and service, and those kinds of things," Rose said.
The new concrete pipe is being built at Geneva Pipe in Orem. Manufacturers said it should last much longer than the old corrugated metal pipe that's currently in the canyon. They are making 18 sections of pipe a day, headed toward a total of 871 sections.
"Concrete pipe is the most sustainable product they can use. It has a 100-year service life, a proven 100-year service life," said Vince Bussio, president of Geneva Pipe.
To create the pipe, work crews at Geneva cast the 12-foot sections in vertical forms; metal caging inside adds strength. Bussio said they rigorously test the pipe to make sure it's up to standards.
"This pipe weighs about 25,000 pounds, so it's very, very heavy. And it has rubber gasket joints to make sure that we are not leaking the storm drain water out," he said.
The pipe needs to handle heavy run-off in the spring and keep that water off the road.
"That's what this is about: it's the safety of the roads and the safety of the people traveling down Parleys Canyon," Bussio said.
Approximately 46,000 vehicles go up and down the serpentine canyon every day, which can make the repair challenging.
During construction, Rose said three lanes of traffic will be open at peak times, weekends, and for special events. Project completion is estimated for November.
There will be no road construction statewide this holiday weekend, but there will be orange barrels in places where projects are ongoing.