UDOT announces 2019 construction projects 01

Traffic flows through a construction zone along Interstate 15 at Thanksgiving Point on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Lehi. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

I admit, the title of this piece is a bit of a stretch, Especially when I say that the road in question is Interstate 15.

However, when faced with the daunting task of traveling the stretch of highway between American Fork and Thanksgiving Point at rush hour, the travelers on this daunting 5-mile stretch may feel that they are trying to traverse one of the most infamous off-road trails known.

You may scoff, but the mental image of bouncing and recoiling suspension is more akin to the harrowing act of navigating one’s way through quick darts left and right and over sudden elevation and rough surface changes all while narrowly avoiding speeding trucks than it is to the world of off-road.

This relatively funny and harmless analogy actually brings to light a potentially dangerous situation that, at the very least, is a harrowing experience for all drivers. The freeway stretching from exit 284 to exit 279 is very dangerous, extremely scary to drive on and we have to be able to do something about it if needs be.

I live in American Fork, so driving this freeway is at least a weekly occurrence for me. Both northbound and southbound directions are a complete mess for a few reasons.

First, the lanes narrow significantly on this stretch while simultaneously sharply darting left and right over sections of rough and unfinished freeway without a significant drop in speed limit or any Highway Patrol to enforce the meager change.

Next, the semitrucks and larger vehicles cannot maneuver this highly dangerous section very easily, causing many to drift into the other already harrowing lanes, in particular the trucks with dual trailers and extended load trailers.

Lastly, the road actually can cause extreme damage to certain cars. At certain points on the stretch, the surface changes significantly from asphalt to concrete to older asphalt to older concrete and back again. Whenever this happens, the level drops or rises suddenly several inches at a time. For lower cars, this can be absolutely detrimental. I drive a small, low sports car and have smacked the frame on the road many times while driving this stretch. If my car was not designed to guard vital engine components with the frame, I would have severely damaged my engine a long time ago and would at the very least be looking at removing the entire engine for repair. I know multiple people with this same problem.

I know writing this editorial is a bit like preaching to the choir, but we need to be ready to take action if this stretch of freeway takes a life or something as awful as that, which it certainly has the potential to do if it hasn’t already. The Utah Department of Public Safety is constantly facing fatal crashes on Utah roads, 273 in 2017 alone. How many of those are caused by the road itself? I would hazard a guess of not many.

I know that the Utah Highway Patrol does have reduced limits and they patrol the best they can, but it just isn’t working. There are so many ways that the road could be improved, including rerouting the freeway to State Street for a short period of time so the crews could improve the surface way faster than they would be able to, reducing the limit to 45 and doubling speed patrols for the time being, and many other ideas.

Honestly the road is appalling and I know it’s just a matter of time before something awful happens on there and I want to take action if it does.

Christopher Rose is a resident of Provo.