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State Sen. Todd Weiler lives west of the Interstate 15 interchange at 2600 South in Woods Cross. He says its poor design with a stop sign literally forced neighbors to break the law daily for years to pass through it, with their mad dashes through turning cars causing plenty of near misses.

"This has turned from one of the most dysfunctional interchanges in the state to the most functional," the Republican lawmaker said Friday at ceremonies marking the end of major construction on a 16-month, $126 million project to improve I-15 through southern Davis County.

That included improvements at the 2600 South interchange in Woods Cross and another at 1500 South in Bountiful. Both now use innovative designs that force some cars to travel on the "wrong" left-hand side of the road in special lanes to eliminate left-turn signals, save time and smooth traffic flow.

"We used some pretty cool innovations," said Utah Department of Transportation Executive Director Carlos Braceras. "This is a little different than anything we've ever seen," he said about the design of Weiler's interchange.

The project also created 26 miles of new express lanes — filling gaps in such carpool lanes between North Salt Lake and Farmington. I-15 now has 72 miles of continuous express lanes, the longest stretch in the nation, from Spanish Fork to Layton.

The project also built eight new bridges.

"We've replaced some of the worst bridges we've had in our system," Braceras said. "We had some bridges here that were dropping concrete out of their decks" onto roadways beneath.

An array of safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, some new drainage systems and new paving also were completed. UDOT said it used 29,000 cubic yards of concrete, 120,000 tons of asphalt, 1.9 million pounds of steel and 376,000 cubic yards of fill dirt. It required 550,000 man hours of work.

Braceras said the improvements mean that stretch of I-15 now "will meet mobility needs here in southern Davis County through 2040." He adds, "It meets all the latest safety standards."

Officials celebrated with ceremonies at the 2600 interchange on Friday that included legislators and leaders from Bountiful, Centerville, Farmington, North Salt Lake, West Bountiful and Woods Cross planting landscaping trees.

"There are still a few months of quality control and finishing touches to go," said UDOT Project Manager Nathan Peterson. "But the major milestones are now complete, all of the barrels are off the roadway during the day, and the public should only see lane closures at night."

The new express lanes are open only to car pools of two people or more, for now, and are not available to drivers who use toll transponders. UDOT said the new toll transponder system in that stretch is still being calibrated.

Weiler and Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, also praised UDOT and contractor W.W. Clyde for generally managing to keep interchanges and the freeway open throughout construction, and for doing much of the work at night to help traffic flow.