SALT LAKE CITY -- Commuters on the Wasatch Front are getting some relief. The upgrade of I-80 between State Street and 1300 East is done.
If laid end-to-end, the 16 Innovate 80 bridges would measure 1,953 feet long, taller than the world's tallest building, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan (1,670 feet).
Thursday a celebration was held marking the end of the Innovate 80 project that has had drivers shifting through narrow lanes in the heart of the Salt Lake Valley for two years.The rebuild of I-80 will be the project that's remembered for doing things differently and better, if UDOT has anything to say about it. That pioneering method, for which UDOT drew the attention of a National Geographic documentary involves accelerated bridge construction, bridges built whole then slowly moved into place. It saved a year and millions of dollars in user costs.
UDOT Project Manager John Montoya says, "It was a great time-saving mechanism on this job. It turned a three-year job into a two-year job, just turned it over to the public one year sooner. So we're driving on it now rather than a year from now."The agency even let its hair down a bit, inviting Heber cowboy poet Jeff Carson to assist with Thursday's festivities.
Carson said, "So we've notified paramedics and alerted all EMTs that the governor will be driving these SPMTs, but with a little bit of luck and an answer to a prayer, all will come away no worse for the wear." 1
The SPMT, now forever memorialized in poem, is a self-propelled modular transporter, which the governor took out on a test drive to the most unique ribbon cutting in memory.
The combined weight of the 16 bridges is 24.5 million pounds, the equivalent of 1,020 school buses, 445 snowplows, or 81 Boeing 767s.
Gov. Gary Herbert called the SPMT a great toy. He said, "Everyone ought to get one of those for Christmas ... I don't know if there's room for it in my office, but I'd certainly like to see one underneath the Christmas tree."
State road builders say they've learned a lot of lessons from this project which will help them in the construction of future roads and bridges.
Other projects that are coming to an end
The delays for commuters who use 3500 South from 2700 West to the Bangerter Highway are going away as most of that construction will be finished by Thanksgiving. That's nearly eight months ahead of schedule.
UDOT's Scott Thompson said, "We know it has been a bit of a painful process, but we will provide them with a much better corridor once this project is opened up."
Springville residents soon will get to drive the updated S.R. 77 which connects with a new overpass. That road has been closed for a year and is expected to open in a few weeks.