Despite cold and recent winter storms, installation of the Olympic Rings on the mountainside above the University of Utah is on schedule, and the lighted rings will be turned on as planned at 6 p.m. Feb. 6.
Officially titled "The 2002 Olympic Winter Icon" by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, the five Olympic Rings include 370 individual light sources per ring for a total of 1,850 lights.
The lights will be lit nightly, from 6 p.m. until midnight, through Feb. 24.
"The installation will be completed by the end of the month," Nancy Volmer, senior communications manager for SLOC, said.
She indicated that installation plans allowed extra time for weather delays.
The icon is located on the east bench of the valley, on the west face of the valley's shortest Twin Peaks, at an elevation of 6,000 feet above sea level. When lit, it will be visible for up to 20 miles away, though fog or low clouds may temporarily obscure the lights at times.
Compact fluorescent lights are being utilized, because they use only one-third the energy of comparable incandescent lights. About a dozen workers have been involved in the installation project since it began in October.
Electrical power will be provided by one temporary 100-kilowatt generator, equipped with mufflers for noise reduction.
Although the project generated some environmental concern, the lights are only temporary. A hand-held post hole pounder has been used to install the 1,850 poles about 18 inches into the ground. An existing dirt road provides access to the 160-foot-diameter site and only two four-wheel drive vehicles and one snow cat have been used in the project.
Installation of the poles has included no brush-cutting or earth-moving work.
By April or when the ground thaws, the poles will be removed and a revegetation project will begin. In fact, the reclamation plan is expected to increase the density of native plant species on the site, according to Volmer.
The project area will be raked, seeded, fertilized and mulched.
An environmental survey of the project concluded that it may have a positive environmental impact because revegetation efforts will reintroduce native species that have been forced out by non-native aggressive plant species.
The land is being leased by SLOC from Salt Lake City Corporation, the University of Utah and four private owners. The terms of the lease started in October and continue through March.