OGDEN — The initial focus in upgrading the North Ogden Divide will be on the highest priority issues, including poor pavement along a half-mile segment west of Liberty, where the roadway bends south for westbound motorists.

The highest priority drainage issues are also to be addressed in the first round of work as well as geometric issues. Left out of the first spate of improvements to be bid out will be fixes to mitigate rockfall hazards, the most expensive issue to address.

Whatever the case, Weber County Commissioner Scott Jenkins said the county may try to address some of the rockfall hazards internally, using Weber County road department crews.

Prioritizing fixes to the North Ogden Divide is the followup to a study commissioned last summer by county officials to pinpoint the varied problems on the roadway. To that end, Commissioners on Tuesday approved an agreement with Sandy-based WCEC Engineers to come up with a design plan to rehab the North Ogden Divide, focusing on the most serious pavement, drainage and geometric issues. The plan, with a price tag of $79,900, is to be completed by June, with actual work, costing much more than that, to be bid out thereafter.

Jenkins said some of the initial work will likely start this year and stretch into next year. Addressing all the key concerns, though, could extend into "the next couple years."

The North Ogden Divide, formally known as the North Ogden Canyon Road, is a narrow, winding, mountainous road that links North Ogden with the Liberty area 4.7 miles to the east in the Ogden Valley. The study commissioned by the county found that the roadway needs an estimated $3.28 million in fixes to address the most pressing problems and $6.82 million in all to address all the problems, big and small.

Jenkins said the county has set aside $900,000 to cover the cost of the initial improvements and that it should be sufficient. However, according to the study, finished late last year by Talisman Civil Consultants of Murray and Intermountain GeoEnvironmental Services of Salt Lake City, the highest-priority paving, drainage and geometric issues would cost $1.63 million to fix.

Here are some of the upgrades to be addressed in the first stage of work to be bid out, according to Jenkins and Braden Felix, a county engineer:

Paving: Adding new pavement on the problematic half-mile segment of the roadway west of Liberty.

That improvement alone would cost $938,242, according to the study. Jenkins said the soil below the roadway in the portion tends to move, factoring in its poor condition.

Drainage: Increasing the size of some culverts beneath the North Ogden Divide and adding others to improve drainage.

The study singles out 28 high-priority drainage improvements costing an estimated $671,361. As is, poor drainage results in some stormwater runoff gathering on the roadway, which can speed its disintegration.

Geometry: Addressing the highest-priority geometric issues has the lowest price tag, just $17,785, according to the study. Such improvements would include the addition of safety barriers along the roadway and improving placement of berms on the sides of the roadway to minimize interference with motorists.

The most serious falling rock hazards are in the western portions of the North Ogden Divide, closer to North Ogden. The study recommends removal of loose rocks in some of those sections and placement of wire-mesh netting to minimize rock movement.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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