It has been almost 3 years since I-15 CORE Construction began in Utah County. This massive project added two lanes on both sides of the highway from Lehi to Spanish Fork. It extended the express lanes through Utah County and replaced 63 aging bridges. So after millions of hours of labor and a billion dollars later, the end of the project is in sight.
"The end of I-15 Core construction is near. We are approximately 95% complete and when we are done, it will be the fastest billion dollar public highway project ever built in the country," says Leigh Dethman, the Public Relations Manager for UDOT. She says that this project is well ahead of schedule, especially after Governor Gary Herbert issued a challenge to crews this past August.
"The Governor actually challenged our construction crews to have all lanes open by Thanksgiving. Things are looking really good that we will have all lanes open. Now keep in mind that challenge did give us some room to go back and [fix] little things like putting in the landscaping and doing side work. We are working really hard to meet the Governor’s challenge and have all lanes open by Thanksgiving. We will have additional work that won’t close any lanes, but there will be some work to be done so we can finish the whole project by December."
Dethman says after all the lanes open, the faster and more efficient driving standard will help grow the already booming economy in Utah County.
"When I-15 CORE is complete, this will be a catalyst for job creation and economic development. It’s going to further cement Utah’s position as the best state for business. I think the project has really helped the economy even throughout the construction. We have had 1,600 people working on this project every day and by keeping lanes open and traffic moving, that’s moving goods and services, that’s always great for the economy."
Even though this 35 month project had drivers complaining about traffic and accidents, UDOT says finishing a project this size in such a short period of time is unheard of.
"Construction on this project started back in 2010 and it will be completed in 2012. That is nearly two full years ahead of schedule. When we put this project out to bid, we asked contractors to have this project done by 2014. To have this project done by December 2012, two years ahead of schedule, it’s marking Utah as a national leader in innovation by completing this project faster than any billion dollar project in the U.S. We’re just happy to have this road done and to give it to the citizens to use every single day."
Utahns' patience will soon be rewarded as the 24 mile stretch of highway will be open for service next month.