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DRAPER — State troopers want motorists to ease up on the accelerator in construction zones. They are especially concerned about Point of the Mountain, where workers will be on the road until project completion more than a year from now.
Around 165,000 cars cross Point of the Mountain on an average day, so the Utah Department of Transportation is widening the road to six lanes in each direction to ease congestion.
Until work is done, the speed limit will be 55 miles per hour, but few are driving that slowly.
The project will not wrap up until fall 2016, so the lower speed limit will be in place for 16 to 18 more months.
"We're having lots of crashes in the area," state trooper Kammon Hiatt said.
Hiatt regularly works speed enforcement in the 7-mile work zone of Point of the Mountain.
"The excuse that I hear most of the time is that we're just going with the flow of traffic."
The typical flow of traffic is 65 mph, which is 10 miles over the posted speed limit, while other drivers shatter that speed, going between 72 and 74 mph.
During a recent two-week blitz, troopers cited nearly 200 cars for driving those speeds. One was even clocked at 95 mph.
This is through a work zone that has narrow lanes and changing configurations. It's not ideal for speeding. All it takes is one crash, one person that's speeding, that's not paying attention to really bottleneck traffic for miles.
–John Gleason, UDOT spokesman
"Their time to perceive and react is really shortened when they're going that much faster," Hiatt said.
One driver was going 20 miles over the speed limit as traffic intensified Wednesday evening.
"I stopped you because you were going 73 in a construction zone, where it's 55," Hiatt said.
"I didn't even realize I was going that fast," the motorist replied.
"This is through a work zone that has narrow lanes and changing configurations. It's not ideal for speeding," UDOT spokesman John Gleason said. "All it takes is one crash, one person that's speeding, that's not paying attention to really bottleneck traffic for miles.”
A car crash Wednesday morning occurred because the driver hit a concrete median, stalling traffic for 6 miles.
"(He) lost control and his car flipped over to the right side of the road," Hiatt said.
The driver was wearing a seat belt and was not hurt.
"This is a two-year project. It's not going anywhere anytime soon," Hiatt said.
UDOT wants to make sure all of its workers make it home safely.
“All across the board here, throughout the state, we're seeing people going faster than the posted speed limit throughout our work zones," Gleason said.