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SALT LAKE CITY -- Budget cuts are forcing the Utah Highway Patrol to scale back on the number of troopers assigned to catch speeders in the I-80 construction zone.
"They've actually scaled back the number of shifts that they've done in that area just due to budget crunches and stuff," UHP trooper Cameron Roden told KSL NewsRadio on Wednesday.
The cutbacks were first implemented several weeks ago, resulting in fewer troopers working overtime shifts patrolling for speeders along the construction corridor that stretches from State Street to 2300 East in Salt Lake City. When the project began last year, the UHP was aggressively pursuing speeders in an area that yields crashes almost daily. The lanes are narrow and shifting, making for sometimes tricky conditions for drivers.
But the money to pay for troopers to staff the area is dwindling, the UHP said.
"They have not had quite as big of a budget as they've had in the past, so they've decided to cut back on the number of shifts," Roden said.
That is not to suggest that the UHP has stopped patrolling the heavily trafficked corridor. The number of troopers assigned to the area depends on the day of the week and the time of day, with more officers assigned during peak driving times.
"You will still see extra troopers in that area, because they are still doing those shifts," Roden said. "But just not quite as many."
Since the construction project began, the UHP estimates its troopers have written about 3,500 citations for speeding and other crimes. Speeding through a construction zone can result in a fine that's double the usual amount, Roden cautioned.
"Make sure you slow down and give yourself plenty of space," he said.
The cutbacks do not apply to any of the other construction zones in the state, the UHP said.
"The I-80 project is one that's gone on for a long time," he said. "They had to analyze how much money they had for overtime shifts as the project went along."