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SALT LAKE CITY — With Memorial Day weekend upon us, the Utah Department of Transportation wants to remind Utahns that the roads are expected to be very crowded, and some delays are likely.
“I think a lot of people are really looking forward to the summer," UDOT spokesman John Gleason said in a phone interview. "Memorial Day weekend generally marks the unofficial start of the summer season, and where we are expecting the weather to be a little bit nicer over the weekend than it has in the last few days, I think we are going to see a good number of people looking to spend time with family and friends."
According to a UDOT press release, peak traffic times are predicted to be from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday. Congestion on Friday is likely to be concentrated southbound on I-15 in Salt Lake County and Utah County. Motorists traveling the route then are warned to expect at least a 40-minute delay.
"If you can avoid traveling during those (peak) times you are going to save yourself some headaches of being stuck in traffic," Gleason said.
However, if you are planning to avoid congestion by driving at night or during early morning hours, you will face construction on the highway in Lehi that will include southbound lane closures.
According to the press release, construction in the area will be halted during peak drive times but will resume Friday night at 11 p.m. and lanes will be closed until 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Gleason noted that delays should be expected Monday as well. He advised motorists to "try to schedule your trip around the days that everybody else is traveling on Friday and Monday."
On Monday, UDOT noted that traffic tends to concentrate between Provo and Nephi where motorist can expect 30-minute delays. Shorter delays can also be expected with congestion in Spanish Fork Canyon on U.S. 6.
Though not as heavy, Gleason warned that some delays should also be expected for those heading north toward Idaho and Bear Lake.
"If you have a few crashes that are in the mix, then you could see those wait times climb even significantly higher from what we are anticipating," he said.
In the case of minor fender benders, Gleason said that when possible, moving the vehicle off the freeway is the safest option for all passengers and will help reduce traffic.
Overall Gleason said, planning ahead could not only save travelers some headache but in many cases can also reduce road fatalities.
He also warned against the dangers of drowsy driving. While busy planning for the weekend, he said, it is common to "stay up a little later than we should and get up earlier than we are used to." If this is the case, he warned, "be aware of your own personal situation" and pull over if you start to notice you are drowsy.