UDOT discusses peak travel times for Independence Day weekend, efforts to reduce traffic congestion

Posted at 10:32 PM, Jul 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-02 00:32:47-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Rush hour is a pretty routine event for people living along the Wasatch Front: It gets busy in the morning with people on their way to work and then again in the afternoon. But this weekend's rush hours and road hazards have to do with road construction and fireworks displays.

“Fourth of July is really kind of our Super Bowl,” said Utah Department of Transportation Spokesman John Gleason. “We want to make sure traffic runs as smoothly as possible.”

The Utah Department of Transportation says with so many people traveling this weekend, they'll try to stay out of your way.

“We're taking a break from most of our major construction projects,” Gleason said. “We don't wanna add to the congestion.”

The crews may not be out, but lane restrictions will still be in place--particularly at two major construction sites.

One site is along I-15 at the Point of the Mountain where there are lane splits.

“We just put those in last week, and a lot of people are still getting used to them,” Gleason said. “That's a place you’re going to want to pay close attention.”

The other site is on I-80, east of Park City from U.S. 40 to Wanship, where traffic squeezes into one lane in both directions.

“Use I-84 as an alternate route or plan around the major peak travel times to use I-80,” Gleason said.

Major peak travel times are expected to be Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. as people head out of town, and again on Saturday from 10:30 p.m. to Sunday at 12:30 a.m. as people head home from watching fireworks.

“It's all hands on deck for us,” said Glen Blackwelder, who is a traffic operations engineer for UDOT.

UDOT’s traffic control center will have extra staff at those times.

“To adjust the signals helping people get into the venues, and particularly when everybody leaves, they all leave at once and we'll have timed signals to make sure people get away from the venues smoothly,” Blackwelder said.

Gleason said one possible problem spot will be in Utah County.

“Construction on Orem Center Street, so that would be something to be aware of as you’re going in and out of Stadium of Fire,” he said.

Another problem spot is along I-80 on the east side of Salt Lake City. UDOT officials say that every year when the fireworks at Sugar House Park go off, cars start stopping on the shoulder of the highway to watch the show. Highway patrol troopers will be here Saturday night to help move people along.