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From boats to antlers, road debris remains a major problem on Utah roads

(Andrew Adams, KSL TV)



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LEHI — Far from any landfill, there was a different pile of discards.

Tires, receiver hitches, planks of wood, pieces of metal, ladders, plastic bins, a sleeper cab to a pickup truck, antlers — they all formed a large pile on a construction site just southwest of Interstate 15.

The junk wasn’t thrown away. In fact, all of it came from the freeway.

“The sleeper came off of a truck,” said Joe Warnick. “Just middle of the road — left it.”

Warnick, Ames Construction traffic control manager, sifted Wednesday through the debris and unsecured loads that had been left behind along the 5-mile I-15 Technology Corridor construction zone in Lehi over the past month.

KSL TV had asked the Utah Department of Transportation and its contractor in May to save the items that crews recovered to gain a better understanding of the volume and types of issues in the area and throughout the state on freeways and highways.

“It’s just a little bit of everything here,” Warnick said.

Warnick noted most of the objects could easily do harm.

“You could truly injure or kill somebody with this stuff,” Warnick said. “One bounce, right through your windshield.”

UDOT spokesman John Gleason underscored debris and unsecured loads remained a major problem across the state.

Philip Ely said he was traveling south on I-15 near the 7200 South exit when he watched a boat on a trailer come loose from its towing vehicle.

“When I looked over, the guy’s face was like, ‘oh man!’” Ely recalled. “I was like, ‘dude, I’m with you!’”

Philip Ely said he was traveling south on I-15 near the 7200 South exit when he watched a boat on a trailer come loose from its towing vehicle. (Photo: Philip Ely via KSL TV)
Philip Ely said he was traveling south on I-15 near the 7200 South exit when he watched a boat on a trailer come loose from its towing vehicle. (Photo: Philip Ely via KSL TV)

Ely captured video of the boat and trailer as it passed its owner on the right and then angled back toward the inside shoulder of the freeway and collided with the barrier wall.

“I mean, everyone was OK — that’s what matters,” Ely said.

Ely said those types of situations can potentially happen to anyone.

“I’ve had the same experience happen to me with a $60,000 generator (coming) off,” he said. “(I) had a guy hook it up for me, thought it was good. Drove away. It wasn’t, you know, so you live and learn.”

He and road workers alike pleaded with drivers to take extra time to double-check their vehicles and loads before heading out onto the freeway.

Courtesy Patrol supervisor Robert Leatham said debris and unsecured loads not only endanger other drivers, but those like himself who are tasked with recovery.

“It’s just kind of something everybody needs to be aware of — to check their equipment, their vehicles, their trailers every time they get on the road,” Leatham said.

More specifically, Warnick suggested drivers pay special attention to items like trailer hitches to ensure pins are properly in place, as well as lug nuts and tires to ensure they are secure and in working condition.

“Take a few extra minutes, a few extra seconds,” Warnick said. “Secure your load. Make sure it’s safe. You don’t want to lose your debris. You don’t want to hurt anybody.”

Andrew Adams

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