Steve Landeen, Deseret News
A pedestrian tunnel near Utah Valley University is open to help the thousands of students and residents in the area cross University Parkway. UDOT is working to turn the intersection of University Parkway and Sandhill Road into a continuous-flow interchange Thursday, May 3, 2012.

OREM — University Parkway near I-15 moves nearly 70,000 cars a day, and for the thousands of pedestrians in the area, crossing the road can be difficult.

But not anymore.

The street is in the midst of much construction, as the Utah Department of Transportation works to turn the intersection of University Parkway and Sandhill Road into a continuous-flow interchange.

"That's the worst intersection in all of Orem," pedestrian Chase Nunley said. "It takes up all your time during the day."

Pedestrians now don't have to wait for the green light to cross several lanes of traffic in an always congested intersection because of a newly opened pedestrian tunnel.

"It will be nice. It's a lot shorter walk than I thought it would be," Brett Tolman said. "It's a lot more open than I thought it would be."

Construction on the undercrossing began in June 2011. The 190-foot, lighted walkway runs underneath University Parkway, between Utah Valley University and the southeast side of Sandhill Road. 

Employees with the I-15 CORE project acted Thursday as guides, letting people know the new pedestrian tunnel is open.

UVU leaders say thousands of students will benefit every day.

"A lot of our students are living on that side of University Parkway," school spokesman Chris Taylor said. "We now have a building on that side of University Parkway, so there's a lot of foot traffic."

And it's not just students.

"It's quite an ordeal to cross this street here," Alan Farrington said. "You're watching every car. Some are making left turns, some right turns. This is such a busy intersection, so this is a great solution for it."

UDOT officials believe it will also be better for drivers, who won't have to yield to pedestrians, allowing for better traffic flow.

"That light is a little ridiculous sometimes to wait for, and also people don't know how to make the right turn. Sometimes they don't look for people, so it makes it so I don't have to deal with that," said Phillip Earnshaw.

And this won't be the only tunnel for students. On Monday, UVU will begin constructing a tunnel underneath Campus Drive. The tunnel is expected to be completed in mid-August.

University Parkway from 400 West to the I-15 interchange in Orem is scheduled to close each night until May 17 to continue work the CFI at University Parkway and Sandhill Road. I-15 CORE is scheduled to be completed by December 2012.

E-mail: [email protected]