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UTAH MOTORISTS WILL SEE LOTS OF ORANGE AS THEY DODGE CONSTRUCTION SIGNS

SHARE UTAH MOTORISTS WILL SEE LOTS OF ORANGE AS THEY DODGE CONSTRUCTION SIGNS

In the next few days, Utahns are going to see a lot of orange as they dodge construction signs driving through Salt Lake Valley.

As much as 20 percent of a "failed" experimental highway surface on northbound I-15 between 5900 and 3300 South will be repaired over the weekend and through Monday, causing additional traffic delays and obstacles.The cracking and peeling of a thin layer of experimental concrete called "Syncrete" is requiring workers to work around the clock to rip up the buckled concrete and replace it. The Utah Department of Transportation's goal is to have those lanes of I-15 open to traffic by Tuesday, said Kim Morris, UDOT spokesman.

The crumbling surface put a chink in UDOT's original plan to have that 4-mile section opened before Sunday, when I-80 between Redwood Road and I-15 will be closed to traffic.

Instead, I-15 in the south of the valley will be under repair on Monday at the same time the Redwood Road project is creating havoc, particularly for those driving to the airport.

"Monday is going to be a mess. Drivers are going to have to find alternate routes," said Morris.

The syncrete problems on the stretch between 5900 and 3300 South - which developed within days after the new surface was laid - will likely increase the cost of that $1.5 million project by $500,000, said Morris. Federal grant money picks up 92 percent of the cost with the state paying 8 percent.

The experimental concrete was developed by Hodson Chemical Construction Corp. in North Salt Lake. UDOT approved use of the synthetic product after it had been tested over three years on sections of the freeway near the Point of the Mountain and Snowville on I-84 near the Idaho border.

From the point of view of researchers, the project is not a failure, said Morris. Researchers expected some problems and are using "problem concrete" to discover weaknesses.

But from UDOT's point of view - the ones who are answering numerous calls from complaining drivers . . . "We'll have to say it hasn't been a success," said Morris.

The syncrete will not be used on a heavily traveled highway until more extensive testing is performed, he said.

Ideally, the synthetic material was to save millions of taxpayers' dollars because the new concrete requires only 1/16- to 3/4-inch depth to resurface deteriorating highways. It was projected to require one-tenth of the cost. Traditional repaving requires 3 to 5 inches of concrete and far more construction time.

The life expectancy of the synthetic concrete is estimated at 10 to 15 years, compared with the 20-year span of traditional concrete.

"Whether the Hodson product works out or not, this thin-layered overlay is the wave of the future, " said Morris. "New technology will replace the cumbersome methods of the past. The world is watching Utah to see how well this new product performs."