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DRAPER — The speed limit on I-15 near Point of the Mountain now changes depending on whether workers are present in the road construction zone.
Electronic variable speed limit signs were placed along the freeway construction project straddling Salt Lake and Utah counties on Friday. The speed limit now reads 55 mph when construction workers are in the area and will be raised to 70 mph whenever they aren't there, said Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason.
“Our goal is to always keep traffic moving, especially on this critical corridor,” Tim Rose, UDOT project manager of the nearly completed construction at Point of the Mountain, said in a statement. “At the same time, keeping our workers safe is our top priority. Using variable speed limits is a great way to accomplish both.”
The electronic signs are portable and can be moved depending on which stretches of freeway are being worked on, Gleason said. More precise reduced speed zones, he added, re-emphasizes the importance of drivers slowing down near construction workers.
"I think there’s a tendency when people see a 7-mile stretch of 55 mph or reduced speed limits, they have five open lanes of freeway (and) they’re not seeing work, there’s a tendency to speed up," he said. "The goal here really is to get drivers to refocus on work zone safety. We want them to know that when it reads 55 mph, there’s a reason, and that’s because our workers are nearby."
Gleason also anticipates the higher speed limits in safe areas will be a welcome change for motorists.
"There (are) several areas of the project where it makes sense to drive freeway speeds," Gleason said. "We don’t want to add any unnecessary headaches to people who are trying to make their way to work or home."
I-15 is being widened to six lanes on both the northbound and southbound sides between Draper and Lehi. Most construction is currently being done on the stretch of freeway between Bangerter Highway and 12300 South, according to Gleason. The project is set to finish in the fall, he said.