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SUMMIT COUNTY — Several semitrucks rolled over a span of several days earlier this month at a major interstate junction in northern Utah. Sharp curves at Echo Junction prompted UDOT to study the problem and seek safety improvements to be put in place in the next few months.
The problem area is on I-84 eastbound approaching the junction with I-80, known as Echo Junction. As motorists close in at 70 mph, the posted speed on the ramp drops to 45 mph for eastbound motorists and 35 mph for westbound traffic. Despite all of the signage, some truckers just aren’t cutting their speed fast enough for the curves.
“It is an area where we see people driving a little bit too fast,” said John Gleason, a UDOT spokesman.
Three weeks ago, three semitrucks rolled and crashed in a span of five days on those sharp curves. At least one of those crashes was due to excessive speed, another happened when a car cut off the big rig, according to the Utah Highway Patrol. In five years, UDOT has seen one semitruck rollover each year.
“Nothing like like what we saw earlier on this month,” said Gleason.
“Over the years, there’s been a lot of crashes there,” said Tyler Rowser, who responds to those crashes as a firefighter with the North Summit Fire District.
Rowser grew up near the junction and said there were even more crashes in the 80s and 90s. “I saw it constantly there,” he said. “It was kind of the joke when we would get up for school: is there a semi crash, or not?”
That was before the state put in warning signs.
“That seemed to reduce it,” Rowser said. “But, we’re still getting crashes on too much of a regular basis.”
The curves are sharp, but it’s a safe drive at the posted speed, and there are multiple signs warning drivers about the quick drop in speed.
“Too many vehicles that have taken these curves too fast, taken ramps too fast that have unfortunately paid the price,” Gleason said.
UDOT plans to put in new signage alerting motorists about the quick drop in the speed limit. “The speed limit is 35, your speed is this, and it will be flashing if you’re going too fast,” Gleason said.
UDOT said the signage should be installed by October.