OGDEN -- As transportation crews closed Ogden Canyon for repairs Wednesday, maintaining the aging road is becoming more and more of a challenge.
Utah Department of Transportation crews performed unscheduled repairs to the road where it had become damaged from the collapse of an old wooden water conveyance system that was buried beneath the original roadway structure.
The damage created a soft spot in the road that needed to be immediately filled to avoid further deterioration.
UDOT Region One spokesman Vic Saunders said because of the age of the road, the need to repair it is becoming more frequent, but right of way ownership issues make the process more difficult than it is for most other state-owned roads.
Because of the unique layout of the road, UDOT only owns the actual roadway surface and a few select easements along the corridor. The area off of the road belongs to either private property owners or the U.S. Forest Service.
"Ogden Canyon has always been a different animal for us," Saunders said. "Part of the problem is that we don't own the entire right of way, so it's not always easy for us to just go and start working off of the road."
But much of the work UDOT performs requires crews to be in exactly that position: off the road.
The state has recently had a problem with the concrete barriers on the side of the road falling into the Ogden River, either from years of deterioration or from vehicles knocking them off.
In December 2011, crews removed several of the 12.5-foot-long, 1,000-pound barriers from the river after a large truck knocked them over.
Larger trucks typically aren't allowed in the canyon, but are permitted when other roads leading into the Ogden Valley, such as Interstate 84, are closed.
"We try to keep a close eye on that road," Saunders said. "But with its age, we encounter a lot of hidden things that need to be taken care of."
According to the Utah Department of Community and Culture, Ogden Canyon road is one of oldest in Utah, first built in the 1860s by Lorin Farr and Isaac Goodale. From 1865 to 1882 it was operated by the Ogden Canyon Road Company as a toll road.
It became a public road in February 1882 and was added to the state highway system in 1911.
With homes and businesses in the canyon, and the road serving as the main link between the Ogden Valley and the rest of Weber County, it will continue to see major traffic.
According to traffic statistics from UDOT, an average of more than 8,000 cars passed through the canyon every day in 2010.
A project to widen and upgrade the road exists on the state's long-range transportation plan, but the work isn't scheduled to take place until 2031 at the earliest.
"It's a bit of an unusual situation for us," Saunders said. "But we'll continue to deal with the issues as they come along."