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Aging road, heat blamed for I-15 buckling problems

DRAPER — A section of I-15 between Bangerter Highway and Point of the Mountain has buckled multiple times in the past two weeks, and heat is partly to blame.

The area of concern starts near 12300 South and goes into Utah County, UDOT spokesman John Gleason said.

Concrete tends to contract and expand, and when it contracts, it allows dirt, stones, rocks and debris to get caught in the joints, he said.

“Then if you have a rapid heat-up, that concrete will expand,” he said. “And what we’ve seen in the last few days is the concrete doesn’t have anywhere to expand so it goes up, and that’s led to some of the buckling issues we’ve had.”

The other problem is that the road is old. “Concrete is a great surface,” Gleason said. “It’s a great roadway. In fact, if you look at this, it was installed in the 1960s, so this is 50-plus years. It has an incredible life span.”

The section of I-15 with the troubled spots hasn’t been completely replaced in the past 10 to 15 years.

To alleviate the problem, UDOT cleared out and resealed the joints two years ago. For a quick fix, UDOT is using asphalt to patch up the buckling. In the next couple of weeks, construction crews will begin their short-term plan of cutting relief joints.

"We will cut out the old seal and take out the dirt and clean it, and then reseal it so there's that space there," UDOT maintenance engineer Lee Nitchman said.

The project will cost between $100,000 and $200,000. It isn't a permanent fix, but there are plans to replace the road.

"We'll be doing that in the next two to three years with a big project down in that area," Gleason said.

UDOT already has the money for the project, he said, which will cost roughly $200 million.