Jason Olson, Deseret News
Traffic moves along the Legacy Parkway in Woods Cross Monday during the first morning commute for the new stretch of highway.

CENTERVILLE — It's so disheartening, the morning commute. The evening one is worse. A drive that should take 20 minutes takes twice as long or more.

But not on Monday.

Traffic flowed on Interstate 15 for the first time in what seemed a long time during the inaugural commute for the Legacy Parkway.

Taking 25 percent of the vehicles off of I-15 will do that.

Eventually, up to 30 percent of the 155,000 vehicles that drive through Farmington, Centerville, Bountiful and North Salt Lake are expected to take Legacy Parkway, the first viable alternate route for those commuters.

The $685 million Legacy Parkway — from the Wasatch Weave in Farmington to I-215 in North Salt Lake — officially opened Saturday afternoon.

"The hope is (to) get all of the people going to the west side of valley out of way of people going downtown," said Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Nile Easton.

The commute from Farmington to downtown on I-15 stayed at about 19 minutes all morning, and Legacy's commute was about the same, though motorists on the parkway have a different destination.

Jeff Sokol, a commuter from Clinton, was among the Legacy motorists who shaved about 5 minutes off of his morning drive.

Normally, he takes I-15 to I-215 in order to get to California Avenue, but Legacy's direct link to I-215 meant Sokol could skirt the area between Centerville and North Salt Lake that usually bogs down to 35 mph or slower.

"There was no slowdown today," Sokol said. "I'm excited to see what happens tonight."

Easton said the evening commute usually packs more motorists into a smaller commute window, so it was a relief to see that motorists were driving from 1300 South in Salt Lake City to Farmington in 16 minutes during the 4:30 to 6 p.m. drive time.

"We're definitely thrilled with how it turned out today," Easton said. "It exceeded expectations today."

Easton said UDOT received congratulatory e-mails from motorists stating that Monday's drive felt more like a Sunday drive with how empty I-15 was.

One factor may change the traffic flow a bit on Legacy Parkway, Easton said, because there's still a learning curve for some motorists to get used to where they enter and exit the parkway.

So far, he said, the parkway is an "unmitigated success."

But the license plate of at least one motorist, in a white Saturn Vue, expressed the relief many motorists felt today: FINALEE.


E-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com