Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Utah Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert speaks Tuesday with U.S. 189 as a backdrop. He and others arrived on the Heber Valley Railroad.

PROVO — After three years of orange barrels and narrow lanes, the section of U.S. 189 in Provo Canyon from the Sundance turnoff to east of Deer Creek Dam is officially finished.

The Utah Department of Transportation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday to celebrate the completion. Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, UDOT and officials of several Utah County cities, along with students from Legacy Elementary School in American Fork, arrived at the ceremony on the Heber Valley Railroad.

Herbert called the completion of the highway a joining together that connects the communities along the Wasatch Front and Wasatch Back and stressed that the work on the highway "didn't just happen," but was the work of the mayors, county officials, legislature, UDOT and many others. He added that the completion of the highway represents a commitment to transportation and community by the governor's office.

The 4 1/2-mile section of highway cost $90 million to complete and ended a decade of construction projects in Provo Canyon.

John Njord, executive director for UDOT said the project was a milestone. "We are done with Provo Canyon," he said.

Njord thanked the construction company that created the road, Ames Construction, for its good work, the Legislature for providing the money and the residents who use the road.

"(Many) people endured the construction," he said. "We hope it's useful to you in the future."

Val Draper, a member of the Wasatch County Council, expressed some of the same sentiments and thanked the taxpayers for paying the bill.

The section of new highway includes two new bridges, next to Deer Creek Dam, and four lanes. To reduce the amount of excavation and to make the road more stable, a mile section of the road was split into two levels, with the westbound lanes 40 feet higher than the eastbound lanes. The road also softens turns that were once sharp and hazardous, a change county officials hope will decrease accidents and make the roads safer.

"We thank UDOT and Ames Construction for the increased safety for our children," said Roger Graham, the head of a citizen action committee that pressed for completion of the road.

The road required about two million pounds of structural steel, 5,800 cubic yards of concrete, 80,000 tons of asphalt and 185,000 square feet of stabilization walls.