UDOT says 'road closed' means just that

Jun 28 2011 - 10:09pm

LAYTON -- A "road closed" sign and a locked gate apply to more than just cars.

Utah Department of Transportation has been having problems with motorcyclists, bicyclists, hikers and walkers illegally accessing closed roads, said Vic Saunders, UDOT Region One spokesman.

Snow levels have remained deep over several mountain passes in the Top of Utah this spring, which has led to a delay in their openings.

The Monte Cristo Highway was opened only last week, about a month later than usual.

As a result, gates blocking the routes to vehicular and other traffic have remained locked and the routes closed.

There are also several closed roads, such as the North Ogden Divide, that are free from snow, but are under construction.

Although the roads are clearly marked as closed, UDOT officials have been surprised to find that some eager recreationists are ignoring the closures and going around the gates and signs as if the roads were open.

It is against the law to disregard or remove a "road closed" sign, and violators can be fined. Fines vary depending on where the road is.

Saunders said Monte Cristo Highway and State Route 65 in Morgan County have been two major trouble spots.

"We've seen it a lot this summer," Saunders said, "and it's just a bad idea all the way around."

Saunders said the main concern with traveling on a closed road is that it's dangerous.

"On some of these roads, there are deep and often unstable snowdrifts blocking the roadway ahead," he said.

"In other cases, construction crews are repairing damage caused by snow and ice or landslides, and they aren't expecting to see people on the road. They are focused on the task at hand."

Saunders said construction equipment and construction workers who aren't expecting anyone is a recipe for disaster.

UDOT is now in the process of reopening closed alpine pass highways, and all such routes should be opened by the first few weeks in July, but until then, people should stay off.

"Until the gates are unlocked and pulled to the side of the road and the 'road closed' signs are gone, it's illegal to be on the road," Saunders said.

"It's that simple."

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