MH 121516 HAFB Traffic 05-4

Traffic moves toward the 650 North exit of Interstate 15 near Hill Air Force Base's west gate Dec. 15, 2016, in Clearfield.

RIVERDALE — Here’s an early heads-up: Interstate 15 through Northern Utah figures to be gridlocked a year from now.

Not only will the state add two new lanes to a large portion of the freeway in northern Davis and southern Weber counties, crews will also rehabilitate or replace seven bridges along the same stretch of road.

Utah Department of Transportation Program Manager Nathan Peterson said the state will add both northbound and southbound lanes to I-15 between Hill Field Road in Layton and I-84 in Riverdale.

• RELATED: $158 million I-15 project in Northern Utah moved up, thanks to $1B bonding bill

The lanes will extend UDOT’s Express Lane system, which allows carpoolers, buses, motorcycles, emergency vehicles and clean-fuel vehicles. When space is open, solo drivers are allowed to drive in the lane for a fee.

The lanes run uninterrupted from Spanish Fork to the south Layton interchange. When the $158 million, 10-mile extension into Riverdale is complete, the system will stretch 82 miles from Utah County to Weber County.

While adding the new lanes, UDOT will also replace freeway bridges at Church Street in Layton and at 200 South in Clearfield. They will replace bridge decks at Gentile Street in Layton, at 700 South and 650 North in Clearfield, and at 5600 West and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in Roy.

UDOT Region One spokesman Vic Saunders said for the deck replacements, main bridge structures will remain intact while only the overpass driving surfaces are rehabilitated.

• RELATED: Bill would allow cameras, other tech to catch Express Lane carpool cheaters

Peterson said construction on the project is scheduled to begin next spring and it will likely take two years to complete. 

Preconstruction activities, which include replacing multiple broken concrete panels along outer sections of I-15 in the Layton and Ogden area, will begin this fall. The state says the concrete is old, originally built onto I-15 in the 1960s. Replacing the panels will cost $750,000.

UDOT has sought to expand its Express Lanes into Weber County for years but didn’t receive funding until 2017, when the Utah Legislature approved a bill that allowed the state to accelerate certain transportation projects by bonding for $1 billion over four years.

During the 2018 legislative session, state lawmakers approved a measure that doubled the state’s Express Lane toll for single-occupancy drivers, bumping the maximum toll rate from $1 per segment to $2 per segment, or from about 10 cents to 20 cents per mile.

• RELATED: UDOT plans to fix busy freeway arterial 2700 North next year

The Legislature also approved the transportation department’s use of cameras and other technology to catch and penalize Express Lane violators. UDOT says on average, violators account for 28 percent of the vehicles that travel in the system.

The system is meant to keep traffic flow consistent in the dedicated lane, despite how bad congestion gets outside of it. But during the past year or two, congestion in the lane has become an issue at the busiest points in the system, mostly during evening commute times, and speeds are regularly falling below the minimum 55 mph target.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at facebook.com/mitchshaw.standardexaminer.

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