LAYTON — The interchange at I-15 and Hill Field Road in Layton often moves to a crawl, especially around 3:30 each afternoon. It’s so bad at times, vehicles trying to exit I-15 at Hill Field Road to get on Main Street often back up into the lanes of the freeway.

But that is expected to change in about 18 months once the Utah Department of Transportation is done with its latest construction project.

"When everybody converges here to try to get on the freeway or to try to get across to the other side of town, it just buckles up. There's just no ability to move traffic right now,” Layton Mayor Bob Stevenson said. “Because of the growth that's taking place around us, it's starting to become a very narrow window of when you can try to move through here very quickly.

“It's congested most of the time,” he said, adding that it's a problem the city has been dealing with for years.

“It's not unusual for the short drive from Main Street Layton to Layton Hills Mall to take 10 minutes, when it should take 1 to 2 minutes,” UDOT spokesman John Gleason said.

Things should improve once the interchange is redone by the end of 2016.

"We've been working closely with Layton City to come up with a plan that is tailored for this area specifically,” Gleason said.

The $28 million project will come in two phases. In about 90 days, UDOT will construct ThrU Turn intersections eliminating those long left turn lights. Instead of turning left at a designated intersection, drivers will move through that intersection and into a "bulb out," or a lane that extends outside the normal traffic lanes where drivers will make a U-turn. From there, drivers will turn right at that intersection where they would have made a left turn.

“We'll try to open up the ThrU Turns by the holiday shopping season, so that businesses won’t be affected and people move through here efficiently,” Gleason said.

After that, the whole interchange gets rebuilt. It will become a "Single Point Urban Interchange” design, which is prevalent all along the Wasatch Front.

“What we're doing is building two new bridges to the side of the existing bridges,” UDOT project manager Brett Slater said. “Next February and March we'll remove the existing bridges and slide these new bridges into place."

The idea of ending the gridlock in this fast-growing area is good news for businesses.

"I think this is going to help a lot,” said Linda Kelley, general manager of Layton Hills Mall. “It's going to really change the way people access the mall, and also the way traffic enters and leaves the mall."

The majority of the work will be done at night.

“For an 18-month period, it may be a bit of a pain,” Stevenson said. “But if people will be patient, when it's all said and done, it's going to be a wonderful addition to our community."

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

Email: kmccord@deseretnews.com