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Jed Boal ReportingA road reconstruction project in Provo Canyon will improve safety and capacity on the road, but the Department of Transportation is worried about safety while crews dig into the complex project.
Provo Canyon Highway boasts some of the most majestic roadside scenery in the state. Right now state troopers and construction workers say motorists need to take the trip a lot slower. They see close calls in the curvy canyon every day.
Brent Wilhite, Utah Department of Transportation: "People are just about getting hit, driving too fast. It makes them uncomfortable being in the work zone."
Four out of five people injured in construction zones are drivers or passengers. Troopers have clocked speeders around 70 miles per hour, nearly double the posted 40-mile-per-hour work zone speed limit.
Brent Wilhite: "The difference between going 50 miles per hour through the four mile work zone, either going 50 or 40 you're only going to save yourself one-point two minutes. It's worth it to slow down, it may save your life."
About a month ago the contractor bought three radar signs to encourage motorists to police themselves. Within a week, a car plowed into one of the signs and took it out of service. So UDOT has hired off-duty troopers to patrol the highway along with regular enforcement.
Brent Wilhite: "If that doesn't work, we'll be forced to shut down some lanes to make it a safer route."
The expanded highway will include two lanes in each direction and a new bridge across Deer Creek Dam.
Ten-thousand vehicles travel the canyon every day and that number should double in the next 15 years. Get used to the construction, the complex project will not be complete until late next year.
Plenty of signs line the project warning motorists of the potential hazards in the work zone.