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CARS, DRIVERS FUME, TEMPERS REV AS I-15 BECOMES A PARKING LOT

SHARE CARS, DRIVERS FUME, TEMPERS REV AS I-15 BECOMES A PARKING LOT

Jerry Hess left his home in Kaysville a full hour before the first pitch of Monday night's home matchup, excited about the prospect of driving to Salt Lake City to see his first Buzz game.

He never made it.Hess and hundreds of other motorists on southbound I-15 ran into a massive traffic jam as construction crews shut down all but one lane of the freeway. Drivers reported sitting in traffic, creeping forward, then sitting again, many for over an hour.

It caught him, the other drivers and even law enforcement officials by surprise.

"There was no warning, no signs, nothing until five lanes of traffic came to a halt and tried to squeeze into one lane," said Hess.

Both outside emergency lanes on the freeway have been pressed into service at one time or another over the past two summers as travel lanes as crews move barricades around, blocking off lanes for construction. Until they were shut down Monday afternoon, both the shoulder lanes through Farmington and Centerville were carrying traffic, temporarily expanding the freeway from three to five lanes, then down to one.

After an hour of stop-and-go creeping, Hess finally made it to a Bountiful exit, where he turned around and went to play miniature golf instead.

"I have yet to see my first Buzz game," he said. "It was frustrating, maddening, disappointing, all of those things. There was also some humor in it," said Hess, a deputy Davis County attorney.

"Being the law-abiding citizen I try to be, I just continued to plod along. I saw people turning around in the median, getting nailed by the police one right after another.

"We just limped along, watching as a couple of drivers nearly killed themselves trying to get in front of us. Then our lane would stop for five minutes and the lane they just got out of would pass them by. There is some justice," said Hess.

Not all motorists were quite that even-tempered.

"People's tempers were running pretty short," said Lt. Neil Porter of the Davis bureau of the Utah Highway Patrol.

"It's frustrating, both for the motorists and for the troopers," said Porter. "Their cars are overheating, they're flaming out, they're getting stuck."

They're also having accidents at a record rate.

UHP figures show accidents in Davis County up from 426 at this time last year to 640 this year, an increase of 214. Porter attributes most of the increase to construction.

Most are minor, Porter said, drivers scraping the concrete construction barricades or bouncing off each other.

"It's increased dramatically over last year," Porter said. Drivers find the UHP troopers a convenient target for their frustrations.

"We kind of take the brunt of it," Porter said. "We're doing the best we can. We show up and people think there's something we can do about it."

The good news is Porter met with the project supervisor Tuesday morning to arrange for signs farther to the north warning of the construction and pointing out alternate exits and routes.

The bad news is the construction, which runs between Parrish Lane in Centerville and 2600 South in Woods Cross, is scheduled to continue, on and off, through August.

Drivers, meanwhile, continued to swap tales of traffic woes.

One Centerville woman, who wished to remain anonymous for a reason that will become clear shortly, related her story after leaving the golf course in Kaysville just after 9 p.m. and getting home at 10:10 p.m.:

"I was tired. I was hungry. I was hot. I was afraid I was going to run out of gas. And I had to go to the bathroom."