PROVO — Utah County drivers beware: Getting around Provo for the next several weeks will require a bit more time and a lot more patience.
The Utah Department of Transportation announced this week that construction teams working on the Utah County I-15 Corridor Expansion project will close Provo's Center Street under the freeway beginning as early as Oct. 2. The closure, which also affects the existing closure of the southbound I-15 off-ramp at Center Street, will remain in place through mid-November.
However, the southbound on-ramp to I-15 will remain open and accessible from west Provo and the northbound on- and off-ramps will also remain open with access to and from east Provo.
Still, the closures are expected to cause a fair amount of heartache for local drivers for the next couple of months.
"We understand that it is going to be a big inconvenience for drivers who live in that area," said UDOT spokeswoman Tania Mashburn. "We're hoping that by doing this we'll be able to open it faster and lessen the impacts in the future."
UDOT said that combining the two closures will eliminate the need for several complicated traffic shifts and temporary signals. The closures will also greatly reduce the length of planned closures on the northbound ramps scheduled for next year — cutting the duration of those future closures by three weeks, Mashburn said.
Workers will be able to complete 70 percent of the necessary construction at the interchange before it reopens in November, she said.
"These closures will significantly limit east-west travel and access to the freeway," said Dal Hawks, I-15 CORE project director. "At the same time, we will be able to completely reopen the interchange before the holiday season, allowing easier access to holiday shopping and activities in the Provo area."
Mashburn said that during the closures, drivers on I-15 should use the University Avenue interchange, while local motorists should use 900 West to 600 South to 1600 West to cross I-15 between downtown and west Provo.
UDOT will be working closely with Provo City to help move traffic along the detour route, including synchronizing traffic signals when possible, she added.
Businesses located in the construction area will remain open and accessible through the duration of the closure, Mashburn said. The goal is to finish the work on the Center Street interchange in time for the holiday shopping season, she added.
The 24-mile I-15 CORE project is scheduled for completion by December 2012.
A map of the closure and alternate routes is available at udot.utah.gov/i15core. In addition, a video progress update explaining the construction activities at this interchange can be viewed at http://youtu.be/MSrn4tlKFk8.