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UDOT addresses COVID-19, announces top 10 road construction projects for 2020

Construction crews work on a new I-15 northbound travel lane, which runs from Bangerter Highway to 9400 South, in Draper on Thursday, April 9, 2020.
Construction crews work on a new I-15 northbound travel lane, which runs from Bangerter Highway to 9400 South, in Draper on Thursday, April 9, 2020.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Transportation released a list of its top 10 construction projects for 2020 this week, but while officials hope COVID-19 won’t delay scheduling, they have no guarantees and are taking extra precautions.

“It’s a situation that evolves every day as it does across many professions and many different areas,” said John Gleason, UDOT public information officer. “I think we’d be naive to think that the COVID-19 situation would not impact our projects. To what extent? That still remains to be seen.”

Gleason said UDOT is tracking things closely and that its top priority is to keep the public and construction crews safe.

That means taking a “proactive approach” in all of UDOT’s projects, he said, noting crews will be wiping tools and disinfecting surfaces in vehicles, tracking worker health, holding morning meetings at a distance and incorporating social distancing guidelines. The agency also recently ordered protective masks for workers.

“We are pushing forward as much as we possibly can, and we are having great success so far, but at the same time this has been a situation that we’ve had to adapt to and will continue to be flexible and adapt,” Gleason said, pointing out that transportation is an essential service that needs to be maintained, even during a pandemic.

UDOT’s current and upcoming projects’ are expansive, with more than 220 construction projects statewide in progress or slated to begin this year, with a combined investment of almost $3.3 billion.

Gleason said Utah is seeing tremendous growth all across the state — the population adds the equivalent of a Taylorsville-sized city every year, which is why it’s important that UDOT “makes intelligent decisions for the future.”

“If we don’t take the time to properly plan and really imagine what we want to see here for the future, then the growth is going to dictate it for us,” he said.

Recognizing this, UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras said it is important operations continue during the pandemic.

“Transportation is vital in providing essential goods and services during these uncertain times and will continue to be a major part of our economic recovery in the coming months,” Braceras said in a press release. “These construction jobs are deemed essential in order to keep Utah moving.”

Gleason said it is more important now than ever that Utah has a “strong transportation system” because so many people are relying on goods transported state to state.

“While so many of us we hope are staying home, there are still those people out there that are doing what they have to do to support the state and the country and just making sure we can still somewhat go on — not normally, but still exist,” Gleason said.

At the top of UDOT’s list of top 10 projects for 2020 is a reconstruction and widening of U.S. 89 between Farmington and I-84, which began in February and is scheduled to be completed in 2023.

Gleason said the project, which was selected based on regional significance, level of community interest and benefit to Utahns, will also improve local connections and enhance interchanges.

Top 10 road projects:

  • U.S. 89 Farmington to I-84 ($489 million): Crews are converting a 9.5-mile section of U.S. 89 into a freeway and are doing so by widening the road to three lanes in both directions. The project also includes the building of a 3-mile extension of Gordon Avenue as well as extending frontage roads on U.S. 89. Construction is anticipated to conclude in 2023.
  • Bangerter Highway, three interchanges ($222 million): A continuation of a multiyear effort to upgrade Bangerter Highway, crews will replace existing intersections along the highway at three locations — 6200 South in Taylorsville, 10400 South in South Jordan and 12600 South in Riverton. Anticipated to conclude in late 2021.
  • I-15 northbound ($163 million): Construction crews are adding new collector/distributor ramp systems on I-15 northbound from 9400 South to I-215. The project began in spring 2019 and is scheduled for completion later this year.
  • Midvalley Highway ($70 million): Crews are building a new highway to improve the access to I-80 in Tooele Valley. The road will run from state Route 138 to I-80 and is expected to be completed in 2021.
  • I-15 express lanes ($169 million): Construction crews will continue widening I-15 into four lanes going in both directions by adding express lanes between Hill Field Road and Riverdale Road. Construction began in spring 2019 and continues through 2021.
  • Southern Parkway ($75 million): Crews are constructing the final segment of Southern Parkway, extending from Sand Hollow to S.R. 9. Work began in March and is scheduled to finish in early 2021.
  • 5600 West S.R. 201 to I-80 ($83 million): Crews are widening 5600 West to five lanes and are building a bridge across the railroad tracks at about 800 South. The project began in November 2019 and is expected to be completed in early 2021.
  • I-15 Juab County to Sevier River ($15 million): Crews will start reconstructing 7 miles of I-15 in rural Juab County later this summer.
  • U.S. 191 North Moab to Colorado River bridge ($31 million): Crews are currently widening U.S. 191 in north Moab and will add travel lanes from 400 North to the S.R. 128 junction as well as a center turn lane. Work started in March and is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
  • I-80 S.R. 201 to S.R. 36 auxiliary lane ($6 million): Crews will begin construction this summer and will work to improve traffic flow between S.R. 201 and S.R. 36 in western Salt Lake and eastern Tooele counties by adding an additional exit-only lane on westbound I-80.