UDOT to drivers: expect road delays near airport

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Drivers headed to the Salt Lake Airport in the next few weeks should plan extra time to avoid the traffic snarl that occurred this past weekend due to ramp closures on Interstate 80 and poorly-marked detour signs.

The Utah Department of Transportation is doing maintenance on a dozen ramps on I-180, I-215, Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road -- all of which funnel to the airport.

"It's going to be a periodic thing over the next three weeks," said UDOT spokesman Adan Carrillo, adding road crews are trying to take advantage of the good weather. "We don't close all of them at once."

Just a couple of closures Monday night was enough to send some drivers, including those who know city streets well, into a frustrating maze.

Following arrows on the small orange detour signs on westbound I-80 led drivers to exit at Wright Brothers Drive, about 4800 West. But the signs disappeared after that. On Monday night, a dozen cars, including two or three cabs, appeared lost on the dark streets between businesses and hotels. The only way to the airport from there was to re-enter eastbound I-80 and look for the detour signs again.

The 6-mile line from downtown Salt Lake to the Salt Lake International Airport is expected to be completed in 2013.

"Right now, we're looking at adding even more signs to see if they'll help out," Carrillo said.

Carrillo couldn't say which ramps will be closed on any given night, but said travel restrictions will occur from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. He recommends adding 20 minutes for commutes to the airport.

Tuesday night, crews will work on the airport exit to I-80 eastbound; North Temple and 2400 West to the airport; and I-215 to I-80 westbound.

Drivers leaving the airport should plan for congestion as well.

There is a link on the UDOT website called "I-80 Airport Ramps" but it came up blank Tuesday afternoon.

UDOT has coordinated with the airport about the project, said airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann.

The airport passenger pick-up lanes were also jammed with cars Monday night. Gann said it was not due to the ramp closures but a high volume of people returning from the long UEA weekend.

In addition to the ramp closures, the ongoing TRAX line construction has prompted lane restrictions which also hinder access to the airport.

Don Barron, part-owner of Yellow Cab Co., said his drivers have not mentioned any specific problems reaching the airport, though it can be difficult for people unfamiliar with the area.

"It's confusing out there now," he said. "One of the things you want to do is go in the daytime so you can find your way around at night."

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com


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Dennis Romboy


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