For so many summers, it seemed, the emphasis of Utah's annual road construction program was the Salt Lake Valley.

But with I-15 reconstruction a fading memory and Davis County's proposed Legacy Parkway still on the horizon, many of the big projects planned for the upcoming construction season will take place outside the Wasatch Front.

For Salt Lake-area motorists, that means the impacts to traffic will be felt farther down the road — like on the way to Bear Lake, for example. Cache County and northern Utah will be the site of several major construction projects planned by the Utah Department of Transportation.

"This is a very heavy construction season for us up in Region 1," said UDOT Region 1 director Cory Pope. "So much so that it's taxing our resources. We are actually looking to the other regions in the state for construction help — construction oversight assistance."

The two most expensive and expansive projects will take place on U.S. 89 between Logan and Bear Lake.

One is a $7.5 million project set to begin in June that will include three bridge replacements and the addition of a pedestrian underpass just east of Logan.

The second and larger U.S. 89 project will occur at the eastern end of the state, where UDOT will spend $21.5 million for highway improvements that include a reconstruction of the Bear Lake overlook and rest area.

"We're actually treating that as a single corridor," Pope said of the two U.S. 89 projects. "We're putting together a public information manager for this project — a third-party consultant — to help us get information out to the public on more of a statewide vantage point because it's such a highly used recreation area that we want to get the word out a little more widespread."

Here are brief descriptions and expected traffic impacts for the six major 2005 projects planned within the boundaries of UDOT's Region 1:

• U.S. 89 at Garden City, Bear Lake —UDOT will reconstruct a seven-mile segment from the Bear Lake Summit to Garden City.

Due to the high volume of recreational traffic expected, UDOT is requiring its contractor to keep one lane open in each direction from Friday at 3 p.m. through Sunday night. The contractor has informed UDOT it will attempt to avoid working at all on Fridays. Still, the going could be slow for would-be vacationers.

"It doesn't always mean they are going to be traveling on a paved surface. It could be 15 mph through that (one-lane) section," Pope said, adding that only two or three miles of the road will be worked on at one time, keeping delays to 10 or 15 minutes most weekends.

"Now, during the week when construction activities are going full swing, those delays could be upwards of an hour. And the reason for that is we will have limited one-way traffic throughout a good portion of the project."

Some full road closures will be necessary during off-peak hours.

The biggest benefit of the project, Pope said, will be the safety improvements throughout the canyon.

"We're adding passing lanes on uphill portions so, in sections, there will be a three-lane section of highway," he said. "We are flattening a lot of the curves so you'll get much better sight distance. That has been a lot of the problem — people get going too fast and hit some of these hard curves, and we've had a fairly high accident history up in that canyon over the years."

• U.S. 89, Logan Canyon — Several old bridges will be replaced and some minor road-widening will take place with traffic sometimes restricted to just one lane with delays of 15 to 20 minutes. However, UDOT hopes to limit construction — and traffic restrictions — to one bridge at a time.

The new bridges will be wider, and therefore safer, and the current potholes will be gone, Pope noted.

The new pedestrian underpass will connect to an existing trail system on either side of the highway, providing a safe crossing.

• U.S. 89, north of Ogden — UDOT will reconstruct a three-mile corridor from Wall Avenue into Pleasant View at 2700 North. Some minor widening will be included, but no new travel lanes will be added.

"It basically brings everything up to standard," Pope said. "We have less-than-12-foot travel lanes, they are now 11 feet, so we will (add) 12-foot lanes.

"This is not a capacity improvement. It's more of a factor of an old road that has outlived its surface life, and we are replacing it."

Wider lanes and shoulders should improve safety, Pope said. A sidewalk and new drainage system also will be added.

The highway, now five lanes, will be restricted to one lane in each direction at certain times during the project. Pope said his staff is considering options that would allow two lanes in each direction to remain open a majority of the time, but no final decisions have been made.

• I-84, east of I-15 — Traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction throughout the summer for a pavement-preservation project on a 6 1/2-mile stretch from I-15 to the mouth of Weber Canyon. The work is one of three projects scheduled for I-84 this summer.

The project is designed to give the freeway surface an additional 15 years of life.

"We're going to work to make as much of that happen at night as we can," Pope said. "Unfortunately, we do have some residential areas that will be a little bit impacted by the noise, so we are limited in what we can do there at night."

All of the asphalt — on the road, shoulders and on- and offramps — will be replaced.

UDOT will be do similar preservation work on a four-mile stretch of I-84 between U.S. 89 and the Mountain Green exit. Ten- to 15-minute delays are possible as traffic there also will be restricted to one lane in each direction.

And between Mountain Green and Morgan, UDOT will complete a $25.5 million project it began last year on an 11-mile segment. Fifteen- to 20-minute delays are possible.

• I-15, at U-232 — Interchange, ramp and signal improvements are planned for the Hill Field Road interchange.

"Right now, it's a very congested area. The signals are not tied together; they are not coordinated real well," Pope said. "So we're putting in some state-of-the-art coordinating ability at the interchange to go from the frontage road on the west side of I-15 up into Layton."

Additional lanes will be added and the intersection's turn lanes will be modified to improve traffic flow and safety. Because the area is used extensively during the day, all work will be performed at night.

• I-15, exit 332 — The I-15 interchange at Antelope Drive/Syracuse Road will be enhanced with ramp, turn-lane and signal improvements. No restrictions will be in place during peak hours, but there will be "moderate delays" through the area, Pope said, during off-peak hours.

Pope said the improvements at the Antelope Drive and Hill Field Road exits will not take place at the same time. Most likely, he said, the contractor will complete the Hill Field Road project first.

For more information, consult UDOT's Web site at www.udot.utah.gov.


E-mail: zman@desnews.com