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I-15 speeders targeted

UHP cracking down in Utah County work zones

UDOT fears for the safety of workers adding car-pool lanes in Utah County.
UDOT fears for the safety of workers adding car-pool lanes in Utah County.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

OREM — To deter speeding in construction zones, the Utah Department of Transportation and Utah Highway Patrol are more carefully monitoring drivers in Utah Valley I-15 construction zones, particularly the stretch from Alpine's I-15 interchange to Orem's University Parkway.

In that section of the interstate, which will be getting a car-pool lane, off-duty troopers are being paid to run radar during non-rush-hour times of the day. For safety, there also are a number of emergency pullouts for motorists with vehicle problems.

The extra patrols will last through the fall construction season.

"By increasing enforcement, we'll have a safer stretch of highway," said Geoff Dupaix, a UDOT spokesman. "We want to get motorists to slow down because that's when everyone benefits. Speed limits alone don't ensure safety."

Vehicles have been clocked going 105 mph in the construction zone this summer, Dupaix said.

A couple of cars have also lost control and slammed into the median without injuring any workers.

"We are concerned about those who travel through the construction area at excessive speeds," UDOT project engineer Greg Searle said. "We ask the public to slow down and stay alert in the construction zones."

Even though speeding has been a problem through the construction zone, UDOT opted against imposing reduced speed limits.

"Whether to reduce a speed limit depends on the construction zone," Dupaix said. "In this case, we felt that reduced speeds would be a problem by causing additional bottlenecking instead of alleviating the problem."

Signs alert motorists to the locations of emergency pullouts. The pullouts exist in the event that drivers experiencing vehicle problems cannot make it to the nearest interchange or offramp. One such pullout is the old Pleasant Grove rest area on the northbound side of I-15.

Although the contractor will be unable to lay pavement during the winter because of low temperatures, excavation and cement-pouring will continue unimpeded on a couple of bridges in need of widening, Dupaix said.

When the weather favors construction again in the spring, UDOT has the option of reinstating the increased patrolling.

"The focus," Dupaix said, "is to get us through the rest of this construction season. The agreement we have with UHP allows us to call on them again next year if need be."

The car-pool connection project will widen and extend car-pool lanes from the Alpine interchange to University Parkway, creating 40 miles of continuous car-pool lanes from University Parkway north to 600 North in Salt Lake City.

The target finish date is summer 2006.