Preliminary work on the widening of a 3.8-mile stretch of north University Avenue is under way.

For the past month, Utah Department of Transportation crews have been preparing the heavily traveled thoroughfare from 1630 North to the mouth of Provo Canyon for major reconstruction beginning May 1. Work is to be completed in August.The road will be widened to two lanes in each direction, a median turn lane and 10-foot-wide shoulders, said Marvin Christiansen, UDOT project engineer. The project is estimated to cost $4.2 million.

"It's going to be a lot nicer road," Christiansen said.

It should alleviate some of the congestion on the east-side avenue.

"That whole section is a bottleneck," he said. It's really been a problem. It's something that's definitely been needed for some time."

While the work so far has required only minor traffic restrictions, Christiansen said restrictions will be "dramatic" once the existing road is torn up.

Motorists should expect delays through-out the summer.

"I would expect we would maintain one lane in each direction," Christiansen said. Traffic, however, will be slow moving, he said. He advised drivers to consider alternative routes.

During construction, sections of the road will be covered with gravel until crews are ready to lay the new asphalt, Christiansen said.