OREM — Attention Utah County drivers: You know that old saying that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better? Well, take heed.
Beginning next week, construction crews working on the I-15 Corridor Expansion are scheduled to close the northbound on-ramp and southbound off-ramp at 1600 North in Orem starting as early as Monday — for up to 30 days.
The closure will be the first of several long-term shutdowns planned this spring and summer as workers reconstruct the freeway interchanges at 1600 North, 800 North and Center Street in Orem. The good news is that freeway lanes on I-15 will remain open during these interchange closures.
While construction on the 1600 North interchange will be partial, ensuing closures at 800 North and Center Street will be "a complete closure of those entire interchanges," according to I-15 CORE project director Todd Jensen.
"Our strategy is not to have all of the interchanges closed at the same time," Jensen said. "We'll have all of our detours (appropriately) signed … and have information available so you'll know what to expect on your commute everyday."
Jensen also mentioned that the University Parkway interchange is scheduled for completion by next month, which should provide a viable alternative route for some drivers during the upcoming planned closures.
According to the Utah Department of Transportation's construction agreement with project contractor Provo River Constructors, Jensen said only one interchange will be closed at a time, and UDOT will be timing traffic signals in the area to improve movement along alternate routes.
He explained that 1600 North would be reconstructed in three phases. During phase one, crews will close the northbound on-ramp and southbound off-ramp for paving and permanent ramp construction.
Once the first phase is complete, workers will close all on- and off-ramps at 800 North, as well as 800 North under I-15 for up to six weeks. Crews will also reconstruct the 800 North interchange as a single-point urban interchange — similar to University Parkway and 10600 South in Salt Lake County.
After 800 North reopens, the Orem Center Street interchange will shut down for up to 30 days. Once Center Street reopens, crews will return to 1600 North to complete paving and reconstruction work on the south half of the interchange.
Finally, the entire interchange will be closed during phases two and three for up to 30 days.
Originally, the Orem interchange closures were scheduled to last 60 days each, but UDOT and the contractor devised a more efficient plan that reduced the longest closure period to 42 days, Jensen said.
Work on all of the interchanges should be completed by August, and the entire $1 billion-plus project is scheduled for completion in December.
"We have a lot of work left to do before we finish the I-15 CORE project in December," said UDOT spokeswoman Mindy Nelson. "It's going to be a busy construction season, but these closures are necessary to complete the project as quickly as possible to improve traffic in the long run."
A video with information about the upcoming interchange closures can be viewed here.
Drivers can also sign up for weekly email updates at udot.utah.gov/i15core, or receive text updates by texting "i15core" to 53535. In addition, drivers can follow the project on facebook.com/i15core and twitter.com/i15core.
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