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It's dreadfully common during rush hour: Motorists traveling 4700 South, 5400 South or 6200 South on their way to work look out the window and see that the tar on the road is moving faster than they are.

In the afternoon, the test on the commute home is to see which will overheat first - the car or the driver.But take heart - county and state road officials say some of the east-west traffic flow in Salt Lake County's western midsection will get better before your new car is a museum piece.

The most visible sign of progress, although it is slowing traffic currently, is the state project on 5400 South that is widening the highway's only two-lane bottleneck in the heavy-traffic area on both sides of the I-215 belt route between 1900 and 3200 West.

On 6200 South, county officials would already have started widening the segment just west of Redwood Road to four lanes plus a left turn lane but decided to wait until the state finished the 5400 South project. "We purposefully didn't do it now because that would leave 62nd and 54th torn up at the same time," said Neil Stack, Salt Lake County's assistant public works director.

Only the bottleneck on 6200 South between Redwood Road and 2000 West will be widened next year. The county's plan is to continue widening 6200 South another two blocks to 2200 West in 1992, but it doesn't plan to begin even the design work on the stretch to the water tanks at 3200 West until 1994.

The congestion on 4700 South should ease somewhat when construction on 5400 South is completed. But few other remedies are seen to traffic problems there because the road is already a four-lane highway and could be improved only by making it a limited-access road similar to segments of 700 East or the Van Winkle Expressway, said Utah Department of Transportation information officer Shirley Iverson.

"It's just a busy road," Iverson said of 4700 South. "A lot of this road has been residential, and then a lot of commercial development has increased traffic."

The traffic flow has also been mitigated by speed limits that were reduced near Harry S. Truman Elementary School after a student was killed in a crosswalk adjacent to the school on 4700 South last year. A proposed skywalk that would allow the elementary school students to cross over the road would simplify traffic there, but the skywalk proposal is only partially funded.

The greatest redemption for traffic on 4700 South will be the construction of the West Valley Highway, which will be a limited-access expressway running north and south in the 3600 West to 4000 West corridor, Iverson said. The new north-south highway will put more traffic on 2100 South but will ease congestion on surface roads and mid-valley segments of I-15 and I-215.

Design work on the West Valley Highway has been completed between 2100 South and 5400 South. The state plans to push construction along to see that stretch of the highway in use by the fall of 1991, Iverson said.

Design studies are still under way for the West Valley Highway segment between 5400 South and 9000 South, and the state will begin collecting information for an environmental assessment on the segment between 9000 South and 12600 South at a 7 p.m. Wednesday scoping meeting at Welby Elementary School, 4130 W. 9580 South.

Iverson said roadwork seems to be the most annoying to motorists during the summer months because that is when crews can get the most work done. "We're often accused of purposefully plotting to work on every road, but we really don't do that."