Riverton • After a year of delays, the Utah Department of Transportation says it is close to finally opening the state's first reversible "flex lanes" where lanes operate in different directions during morning and evening rush hours on 5400 South in Taylorsville.
Tim Rose, deputy director of UDOT's Region 2, told the Utah Transportation Commission on Friday that the lanes are expected to begin operation in early November between Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road.
The stretch has overhead electronic lane control signs every 500 feet with green arrows in lanes where traffic is allowed, red X's where it is not, yellow X's where traffic should begin moving out of lanes because directions are about to change, and yellow left-turn markers for a center turn lane.
It will have four eastbound lanes during the morning commute, plus two westbound lanes and one left-turn lane between them. In the afternoon commute, it will have four westbound lanes, and two eastbound. At off-peak times, it will have three travel lanes in each direction.
Rose said it will be the first road in the nation where reversible lanes also have left-turn lanes in the middle something Taylorsville wanted to help businesses there. He said that has made the project more complicated than expected and led to problems and delays with hardware and software.
He said testing in laboratories has been smooth recently. So Rose said that in about two weeks, UDOT will do more testing on 5400 South during nights, closing some lanes and testing lights.
In about three weeks, it plans to turn lane marker signals on permanently without changing them during the day so drivers become accustomed to them. It will have three lanes of travel in each direction at that time.
Then sometime in early November, UDOT plans to begin using the flex lanes to change directions of some lanes during the day. An animation of how the lanes work is available online at udot.utah.gov/flexlanes.
Meanwhile, Rose also had good news about other somewhat-slower-than-anticipated construction on another section of 5400 South from Bangerter to 4800 West. He said it should have seven lanes paved there before snow falls, but some seal work, striping and landscaping will not be completed until spring.
That area is expected to have additional traffic not only because of growth, but also because a new stretch of the Mountain View Corridor highway will open in December and temporarily end at 5400 South, bringing more traffic to that road from the south valley.
Also opening on that stretch soon will be the state's second "ThrU Turn" intersection on 5400 South at 4015 West in Kearns. It will not allow any left turns at that intersection to help speed traffic. Instead, cars seeking to go left initially will proceed straight through the intersection and make a U-turn at a special signal about 500 yards down the road, come back to the intersection and then make a right turn.
This year UDOT installed its first ThrU Turn called Michigan U-turns in other parts of the nation at 12300 South and State Street in Draper.
Rose told the commission that UDOT has received some complaints from stores there that say it has hurt their business. But he said other businesses reported it has helped them, and preliminary data show it helped speed what had been congested traffic there.