If you always wanted to go on an exotic safari but couldn't get away from home, this summer is your big chance. The Utah Department of Transportation is sponsoring a safari on University Avenue.

Well, not really, but traveling the road and visiting businesses will be an adventure.Reconstruction and resurfacing of University Avenue officially began Wednesday with a groundbreaking ceremony at Fifth South and University. Construction will last throughout the summer as it extends to Eighth North.

Many residents may see University Avenue as a place to avoid, but with a safari theme, UDOT officials and Provo's Association of Involved Merchants are inviting residents to explore Provo.

"Past construction projects have been handled in a negative way, but with this campaign we are hoping to make the project a positive addition to the downtown area," said Linda Walton, AIM director. "We really believe it will have a positive economic benefit, even though it is a temporary inconvenience."

Geneva Rock Products, project contractor, began at 7 a.m. Wednesday on the road work. They have 95 working days or 140 calendar days to complete the project.

"We plan to start a new block every week," said Kay Christofferson, Geneva Rock project coordinator. "We will probably have 10-hour shifts and possible double shifts."

Work on each block in the 1.2-mile area is not to exceed 30 days or a $2,000 fine will be assessed against the contractor. Projected cost for the work is about $2.3 million.

Four blocks will be under construction at a time and staggered so that when construction begins on the fourth block, crews are finishing the first block.

Geneva Rock will rebuild University Avenue from the ground up. All old material will be removed (about 27 inches) and replaced with concrete. Water and sewer lines will also be replaced and a new computerized traffic signal system will be installed to improve traffic flow.

Mayor Joe Jenkins said the University Avenue project is probably the largest public works project in Provo and it will take some patience to see it through.

Detour signs will direct traffic through the project, but most traffic will be rerouted along Freedom Boulevard, just two blocks west of University Avenue. Businesses along University Avenue will be open during reconstruction and will be accessible to pedestrians and through rear entrances and off-street parking - but some exploring may be necessary.