April marks the two-year anniversary of the start of I-15 reconstruction and the beginning of another work season full of openings, closings and changes on the project corridor.
As the Utah Department of Transportation approaches the April 15 halfway point of the $1.59 billion, 51-month project, it is preparing for a spring and summer during which it will focus on pavement, pavement and more pavement.And in welcome contrast to the past two construction seasons, more freeway ramps and overpasses are scheduled to open in the remainder of 1999 than are scheduled to close.
"We're really rounding the corner here this summer with the kind of work we're going to do and the magnitude of work we're going to accomplish," Tom Warne, UDOT executive director, said last week.
"This summer, we'll actually do two or three times as much paving as we did last year, and the full 17-mile corridor will have new concrete pavement on at least half of the roadway. So by next winter, we won't have to drive on that 35-year-old pavement."
The first changes, planned for the spring, will be the closing of the 5300 South onramp to northbound I-15 for two months and the opening of the northbound I-15 offramp at 7200 South.
The Vine Street overpass in Murray was originally scheduled to open in the spring, but the inability to acquire right of way prevented completion of the widened approach to the bridge.
But David Downs, UDOT's I-15 project manager, said the city of Murray acquired the needed property last week and the bridge is now on schedule to re-open in the summer.
Also this summer: The 3900 South overpass will fully reopen, the northbound I-15 ramps at 3300 South will be completed and the new 400 South viaduct will reopen.
In the fall, the northbound I-15 offramp at 600 South will reopen and the connection between westbound I-80 and northbound I-15 will be restored.
"The public has been very supportive," Warne said. "We went for a period there where we mostly closed things, but this year, the tide will turn."
Warne said UDOT has paid its contractor, Wasatch Constructors, $762 million of the $1.325 billion contract amount. He said the project is on schedule and under budget, and he is optimistic it will finish that way in July 2001.
"I think people are nervous about big projects. Somehow they always come in off the mark budget-wise," Warne said. "We're determined to demonstrate that we can manage this (on budget). We're very comfortable there."
The I-15 reconstruction schedule is subject to change. For the latest updates, call 1-888-INFO-I15 or check the contractor's Web site at www.I-15.com.