Tooele City is in the process of updating its underground water system and the aging roadway that covers it along the western portion of Utah Avenue.
“We have water services that are old and leaking,” said Tooele City Engineer Paul Hansen. “We are bringing that up to a higher standard.”
The water services work involves repairs to pipe as well as the replacement of old fire hydrants and the addition of several new hydrants, providing additional protection for homes and businesses in the area. Once underground utilities work is complete, contractors will begin what is called “edge mill” — a process that involves removing old asphalt and then adding a new layer.
Currently, Utah Avenue is closed between 50 West and 100 West, as parts of the road have been completely cut away, creating an unsafe environment for passing motorists. After that, the portion of road between Tahoe and 1000 West will also be closed, with the longer section in between both closures remaining open.
“Is it an inconvenience? Always,” said Hansen. “But we are working with the contractor to find as many alternate routes as we can. We chose to close the road so we can get it done quicker.”
Formerly a designated truck route to access western areas of the county, Utah Avenue still experiences a high volume of truck traffic that hasn’t yet adapted to the current 1000 North truck route. With closures on Utah Avenue, traffic is being diverted onto neighborhood streets, meaning stray trucks are also grumbling down through neighborhoods.
“It’s signed and posted, but it still happens often,” Hansen said. “There goes one right now.”
Tooele City Mayor Patrick Dunlavy said Utah Avenue has always experienced problems with large trucks, mostly because the Main Street access isn’t large enough for trucks to make the turn to or from Utah Avenue.
“It’s really narrow,” he said. “The construction has exasperated that. Now they can’t get to Main because of the closure, so they are going up residential streets and coming up Vine, 400 or 600 North to access Main, and that is really problematic. We’ve got our police officers involved to stop those vehicles and tell them that’s not the way to go.”
Work to the water system will go through the mid part of August, with the pavement portion happening by the first part of September. Funding for water system repairs is being paid from the city’s water revenue fund, with the road overlay funded entirely by a state appropriation. The project in total is expected to cost $2.5 million.