Reconstruction and resurfacing on University Avenue will be delayed for two months because of minor engineering revisions, a Utah Department of Transportation official says.

Dan Nelson, director of UDOT's District 6, met with downtown merchants Wednesday to give them an update on the University Avenue project. Road work was scheduled to begin in March, but will not begin until May 1.The project was held up in UDOT's review process, he said. "We are trying to eliminate problems, but we still have to clean up plans and revise them."

The delay may be bad news for merchants and residents who are eager for the project to be completed, but Nelson said the good news is that the contractor will be required to finish a section of road 30 days from the time it is first dug up. The contractor will be fined $1,000 every day after that.

Speaking at the Association of Involved Merchants' monthly meeting, Nelson said the project is scheduled to take 95 working days and should be complete by the end of September. Bids for the project contractor will open April 1.

Reconstruction will extend from Fifth South to Eighth North. The new road will be the same width as the present road with four lanes and a center turn median.

UDOT will use high strength curing concrete to get traffic back on the street as quickly as possible.

Access to businesses from the avenue will be limited only when concrete is being poured, but two-block sections will be out of use for 30 days. UDOT will maintain access to businesses from side streets so customers can get in with a short walk, Nelson said.

Merchants also discussed the downtown parking problem at Wednesday's meeting.

Provo City Redevelopment Director Ron Madsen said the Excelsior Hotel parking garage will be under tighter control beginning this week. An employee will be sitting in the booth from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. to collect parking fees.

In the past, the booth was basically left unattended and parking was free in the garage. Those interested in a long term parking space can purchase a pass at the hotel for $15.

Linda Walton, AIM executive director and a member of the city's parking committee, said the committee will recommend that the city council adopt a consistent zoning policy changing all parking to a two-hour limit instead of a one-, two- and four-hour limit.

The proposed change would deregulate parking, allowing everyone - including employees - to park for two hours. Under the present policy, employees who work in downtown Provo and park on the street are ticketed.

Parking cadets are required to check the police department record of employee license numbers as they patrol parking in the city.

"It takes twice the time to mark the numbers," Walton said. "We will have better enforcement if the cars are just marked for two hours."

Other problems with the present policy occur when the spouse of a downtown employee parks and is ticketed. "We want to encourage downtown employees to shop here as well," she said.

But Madsen reminded merchants that it is imperative to leave as much customer parking as possible and encourage employees to park elsewhere.

Walton said AIM has also received permission from the Utah County Commission allowing downtown employees to park in one-hour parking on the first level of the county parking terrace and to have unlimited parking on the top level.