Driving to, from and inside the city is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
By next fall, weekday rush hours could become nightmarish for commuters, who will find four major arteries through Sandy clogged by road construction projects.State, city and county officials say the roadwork they expect to have under way by September could add 20 minutes or more to the daily commute for thousands of Sandy-area residents.
The bulk of the orange barrels, barricades and yellow flashing lights will be courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, which plans to widen and improve mile-long sections of 9000 South and 9400 South, and a 21/2-mile stretch of 700 East.
The fourth major face lift will take place on 2000 East, where the city and county will combine to widen a two-mile segment north from 9400 South.
"It's going to cause a little congestion," said Byron Parker, assistant regional director for UDOT. "(Commuters) either ought to take alternate routes or just leave earlier and anticipate that they're going to be delayed on the way to work."
The inconvenience will only be temporary - if two years can be considered temporary.
The 2000 East project should be completed by the end of next fall, and the 9400 South work should end next summer. But the 9000 South and 700 East projects are expected to continue well into 1997.
Parker said three state projects of such magnitude, and in close proximity to each other, would not normally be done at the same time. But in this case, there is some urgency.
"What we're trying to do is get these places improved so when we start shutting down I-15 to redo I-15, we'll have some alternate routes, plus the mass transit system to take" commuters to and from work, Parker said.
The addition of two lanes in each direction on I-15 could begin as soon as 1996, he said.
As early as this spring, the city and county will work together to extend Wasatch Boulevard south about two miles. Sandy also plans to complete the road network around City Hall this summer. An upgrade of a railroad crossing and replacement of two bridges are also on the city's construction schedule.
Officials say the projects are overdue.
"With the amount of growth we've had the roads are vital, and we're just seeing horrible, horrible congestion and delays right now as it is with our current system," said Sandy city engineer John Bourne. "By getting the roads upgraded it will definitely be a safer situation."
The four major roads are to remain open to two-way traffic, but flow will be restricted to a single lane in each direction, and traffic may be stopped completely at times. Some of those roads now have three and four lanes in places, but all will be four- or five-lane thoroughfares when construction is completed.
Officials say the best way for commuters to cope with the construction is to simply avoid it. That may be difficult for some residents.
A person living on Village Point Way or Horizon Way, for example, would have to travel through most of the 2000 East project to reach Van Winkle Expressway for the drive into Salt Lake City, or navigate part of that project and most of the 9400 South roadwork to reach either I-15 or an eastern route into Salt Lake City.
Drivers aren't the only ones who will be affected. At least 59 homes, perhaps more, will be demolished to make way for the improvements.