SANTAQUIN Hundreds of residents are upset about several roadblocks that have cut them off from the rest of the city for the next two months.
The Utah Department of Transportation set up the roadblocks earlier this month along sections of state Route 198, Highland Drive and U.S. 6 to facilitate a massive overhaul to reshape the converging roadways into a T-intersection near the Santaquin freeway exit. UDOT spokesman Scott Thompson said they hope to have the project completed sometime in October.
But residents who live south of the construction in Santaquin's east-bench neighborhoods are upset because the roadblocks cut off their access to the rest of the city. They are now forced to take half-hour detours to run errands that used to only take five minutes.
"This is beyond a major inconvenience," said Santaquin resident Jessica Free, who estimates she'll spend an extra $125 for gas this month. "You have to plan an extra half hour any time you need to go to church, school or the bank."
Neighbors are glad the roads are being reshaped, but they don't understand why the road sections are blocked off 24 hours a day when it appears no construction is currently under way at some of the locations, Free said.
They're also frustrated UDOT has blocked off all through traffic except for vehicles headed to Terry's Tire Factory on 55 S. Highland Drive and Stringham's Hardware on state Route 198.
Thompson said construction is actually under way closer to the freeway, and UDOT decided to close the roads so it could finish the project as quickly as possible.
"We want to try to get this done before winter," he said.
Thompson also said UDOT made exceptions for motorists headed to Terry's Tire Factory and Stringham's Hardware because the businesses would go under without a steady flow of customers.
Meanwhile, the neighbors are left to battle with winding detours to reach parts of town that are mere miles past some of the road blocks. One route requires motorists to drive north on 400 East, east on 12400 South and south on state Route 198 to drop their children off at C.S. Lewis Academy just a half a mile north of the roadblock on state Route 198.
Tuesday night, 158 parents signed a petition asking UDOT officials to allow them to drive through the roadblock, as they have allowed for cars headed to those two businesses. But Thompson said that would extend the amount of time required to complete the project."We apologize for the inconvenience," he said. "It's not something we like to do, but we also want to get this project done in a timely manner."