Rebuilt I-80 in Parleys Canyon is not slick - not by Utah Department of Transportation standards.
"This rumor that the road surface is slick is absolutely untrue," said Jim McMinimee, UDOT regional director. "We did skid testing and it is well within the parameters of a normal road."However, he acknowledged that the company that rebuilt the road last summer did not finish in time to apply the last seal coat, which would have provided greater traction and better water drainage.
That last coat will be applied next spring.
McMinimee maintains that the existing road surface is safe and acceptable.
Park City Engineer Eric DeHaan has warned residents to be prepared for slicker than normal conditions this winter because of the road surface.
Commuter traffic slowed to a halt on the highway during a snowstorm Friday. Eastbound traffic backed up from Parleys Summit to Mountain Dell Reservoir as cars and trucks slid and spun out as they tried to climb over the 7,200-foot pass.
McMinimee said some people had not yet put on their snow tires and most were out of practice at driving on icy roads.
UDOT hopes to improve winter-driving conditions over the pass with a new chain-up area at the base of Parleys Canyon. Eastbound vehicles will be able to exit to a paved area to install chains.
An electronic sign will warn drivers of large trucks that they must put on chains or turn back. Violators will be ticketed.
The focus is on big trucks because they cause the most trouble, McMinimee said. "Typically we close the canyon 10 to 12 times a year, usually because semis are jackknifed across all three lanes."