They've avoided accidents but not windshield damage.
They've felt anger and frustration but have kept their cool.Most have given up trying to figure out where the daily closures are before they hit the road. And a few have given buses, carpools or vanpools a chance.
All things considered, the Deseret News' Road Warriors, like thousands of other motorists along the Wasatch Front, have learned to live with I-15 reconstruction and other transportation projects in Utah's expansive cone zone.
"It does feel like the entire state is shut down, but I'm not losing sleep over the whole deal," said Amber Banks, one of the 10 commuters in our volunteer pack of roving road hounds.
"I feel like it's never going to end," said Heather Nash, one of five Road Warriors who commute into downtown Salt Lake City. "But I haven't been as frustrated as I thought I would be."
Those statements sum up the current consensus of our hired hostages of the highway, and exemplify the sort of candid assessments we were hoping for when we assembled our bumper-to-bumper bureau 16 months ago.
The Road Warriors cover all corners of the Salt Lake Valley. One lives in Davis County. They use a number of different routes on their daily commutes. They work in a variety of professions and range in age from 25 to, well, considerably older than that. One could be your neighbor. Another could be the driver you just cut off.
If the Road Warriors are at all representative of the average Wasatch Front commuter, they reveal a motoring public that has become more patient and tolerant; has resigned itself to longer-than-average commutes; has accepted cons-truc-tion schedules that change at the drop of a hard hat; and has chosen a preferred commuting path and stuck with it.
As a group, our courageous crew of cruisers have encountered enough short-tempered maniacs - or viewed them in the rear-view mirror - to convince them that road rage is here to stay. They report, however, that driver behavior has improved since last sum-mer.
"I had one case where some guy just, in the course of traffic, got stuck behind me" on I-215, said Road Warrior Shirley Rickey. "He came around in front of me, tapped his brakes and flipped me off. He (was upset because he) had to do the speed limit. I was doing 70 on the inside lane and he wanted to go faster."
They've been stung by late-night road or ramp closures they didn't expect, amazed by the speed at which some cars travel and spurred onward by the promise that a wider, state-of-the-art freeway will ensure a better existence for all.
If the rebuild continues to go as scheduled, the $1.59 billion project will be finished in just two years and 11 months. Based on the average American life expectancy of 78 years, that's just 3.7 percent of most motorists' lives.
As with any group, the experiences, opinions and coping strategies of our vehicular voyagers do vary. Here's a look at what they say about the freeway fate that has befallen us all:
Amber Banks, who commutes to Salt Lake City from West Jordan, takes I-215 in the morning and I-15 at night. On both freeways, she's noticed, motorists aren't driving as safely as they could.
"The one major problem is that people follow too close," she said.
Jess Gomez didn't abandon I-15 as others did last year. He still finds it to be the fastest, easiest way to get downtown from west Murray in the morning. That might change, though, when the 600 South offramp he uses shuts down on Sept. 5.
"I have gotten back into a comfort zone now," Gomez admitted. "Where I'm seeing slower times is in my other driving - going to the store, going to the mall or just taking the kids places."
Clark Lybbert, who commutes from Sandy to the International Center, isn't letting reconstruction get him down.
"I'm doing great," he said. "One thing I started doing is just relaxing more. You get there in the same amount of time if you just slow down instead of trying to cut off the car in front of you."
Heather Nash works for Crossroads Plaza and has an interest in promoting downtown. But really, she insists, it's not as bad as some people think, no matter what fellow Road Warrior Corey Westbrook (see below) says.
"There's plenty of room on (the) 900 South (freeway ramps) right now and West Temple (light-rail construction) is all taken care of," she said. "We still want people to come downtown."
Shirley Rickey, who commutes from Cottonwood Heights to the International Center, has a different perspective because she's lived and commuted in Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver. Compared to traffic in those cities, she said, Salt Lake gridlock - even with reconstruction - really isn't so bad.
She'd feel better, however, "if people are just patient and don't get in too big of a hurry."
Carolyn Rudy had been taking the bus regularly after I-15 work began, but a job change eight months ago put her back on the road again. Her observation is that drivers, even during rush hours, are going much faster than they should.
"I'll be going 70 on the belt route and people will just pass me like I'm standing still," she said. "People are still just taking chances. They're not driving safely or friendly."
Chris Smallwood has discovered I-215 is the best way to get from her West Valley City home to her office on the University of Utah Campus. She enters southbound I-215 at 4700 South, starting off in the opposite direction, and goes all the way around the valley.
"It costs me about 10 miles extra a day, but I can make it in the same time," she said.
Julie Wilcox, who carpools with her husband from Layton, is one of six Road Warriors who has watched helplessly as a rock or some other unidentified flying road object has damaged her windshield. The Wilcoxes have replaced two windshields so far, although both were damaged outside the I-15 reconstruction corridor - one in North Salt Lake and one in Farmington.
Corey Westbrook, a Murray resident, works downtown and has found it particularly difficult to get around - a result of both I-15 work and the Utah Transit Authority's light-rail construction. Light-rail work forced one of his favorite lunch-time hangouts to temporarily close its doors.
"I find downtown to be a real hassle," he said. "I have to go through some weird route to get from point A to point B."
Howard Worthen of Sandy, who
couldn't summon the courage to get on a UTA bus last year, now lives the laid-back lifestyle of a vanpool rider.
"I pay $10 a month and the county subsidizes the rest," said Worthen, who lives in Sandy and works at the Salt Lake County government complex. "You can talk, you can sit back, you can ponder or read, do whatever you like."
The Road Warriors will keep readers informed this fall as Wasatch Constructors launches a series of freeway ramp closures and re-openings.