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LEHI — Drivers in Utah County are enjoying a new wide open stretch of freeway. But the Utah Highway Patrol is cautioning drivers to not get too comfortable, at least with their speed.
UHP Cpl. Todd Johnson was glad Thursday to see a section of I-15 in Utah County without orange barrels, narrow lanes and tight shoulders. It makes it much easier for drivers who have car trouble to safely get out of traffic, he said.
It is still a construction area. It is narrow, (has) less lanes, and most importantly we've got people working in there.
–Cpl. Todd Johnson, UHP
"When the barrels are out, even though you don't see construction work, there could still be construction work, say, the next day. But once the barrels are all gone, you pretty much know construction is finished in that area," Johnson said.
Late Wednesday night, the Utah Department of Transportation opened 5 miles of the freeway — from Lehi Main Street to the Pleasant Grove interchange — and increased the speed in the area from 55 to 65 miles per hour.
"Once we got into the six lanes, and it opened up and was posted 65 (mph), I don't think (the drivers) knew I was there," Johnson said, "but a lot of them were still traveling 55."
But troopers are concerned drivers will quickly pick up their speed on the new section of freeway, just before or out of the remaining 19 miles of construction.
- 4 million tons of fill was used
- 425,298 square yards of concrete pavement was used
- 21.41 miles of drainage pipew was installed
"It is still a construction area. It is narrow, (has) less lanes, and most importantly we've got people working in there. We've got construction workers," Johnson said.
The open stretch does have the HOV lane open, but only two or more people in the car are allowed to use it for now. UDOT is not allowing single drivers with Express passes in the lane until later this year.
UDOT says drivers will have to deal with six more months of construction work; the entire 24-mile project will be finished in December. Until it is, the speed limit in the construction zone is 55 mph.
Still, for anyone driving I-15 in Utah County, even a short drive with no sign of orange is a beautiful thing.