PLEASANT GROVE — Drivers through the I-15 CORE project in northern Utah County have been navigating the bumps, delays and orange barrels for two years. But the commute is about to get a little easier.
The Utah Department of Transportation was expected to open the first 5-mile section of the expanded highway late Wednesday.
I-15 CORE is reconstructing 24 miles of I-15 in Utah County between Lehi and Spanish Fork. The project is now 80 percent complete, and the finish line isn't that far away. The entire rebuild will be done in December, two years earlier than the original schedule called for.
“The end is near,” said I-15 CORE Project Director Todd Jensen. “That's our campaign from here on through this summer is that the end is really near."
The first segment goes from Pleasant Grove on the south end to the Lehi Main Street interchange, Jensen said.
Wednesday night, all the orange barrels and cones were removed, and motorists now have six lanes open in each direction.
The I-15 CORE project began in the spring of 2010, and the pace of construction has been brisk from the outset, with construction crews working around the clock at times.
"When we get to the end of this project, it will have taken 35 months from start to finish,” Jensen said. “I'm proud of the fact that that's the fastest project of this size ever accomplished in the United States.”
It’s the largest highway project in Utah history. When completed, crews will have added two lanes in each direction, for a total of 12 lanes. They will have rebuilt or replaced 63 bridges, and 10 interchanges will have been redone.
By using concrete instead of asphalt, the road base has a 40-year lifespan. There's still about six months of work to go yet before the project is 100 percent done, so motorists can expect to see reduced speeds and fewer lanes south of Pleasant Grove. But with each passing week, additional sections will open up.
Next, workers will close all on- and off-ramps at 800 North, as well as 800 North under I-15 for up to six weeks. Crews will also reconstruct the 800 North interchange as a single-point urban interchange — similar to University Parkway and 10600 South.
After 800 North reopens, the Orem Center Street interchange will shut down for up to 30 days. Once Center Street reopens, crews will return to 1600 North to complete paving and reconstruction work on the south half of the interchange.
Finally, the entire interchange will be closed during phases two and three for up to 30 days.
Work on all of the interchanges should be completed by August, and the entire $1 billion-plus project is scheduled for completion in December.
Drivers can sign up for weekly email updates at udot.utah.gov/i15core, or receive text updates by texting "i15core" to 53535. In addition, drivers can follow the project on facebook.com/i15core and twitter.com/i15core.