UDOT officials say bridge from U.S. 40 to Interstate 80 is ‘absolutely safe’ despite bumps
Officials from the Utah Department of Transportation said the bridge where a fatal vehicle accident occurred last month is “absolutely safe” and that the amount it has settled and the small resulting bumps in the road are “not abnormal.”
The accident involved a dump truck traveling northbound on the bridge from U.S. 40 to Interstate 80 on Nov. 21. The driver was thrown from the vehicle and died from his injuries. Authorities at the time did not specify what caused the incident, though they indicated speed and the wet and slippery conditions may have been factors.
Courtney Samuel, a UDOT spokesperson, said the agency inspects bridges every two years and that this bridge was last inspected in August 2018. He said crews found the bridge had settled one to two inches since it was installed in 2001, causing bumps where the bridge connects to the roadway.
“There are actually probably bigger ones on Interstate 15 in the Salt Lake Valley,” he said. “It can cause a slight bump that we see in this particular area — this bridge. It is a slight bump, (but) quite a bit of annoyance for drivers.”
The depression occurs as the bridge bends around a curve, and some local drivers, including Josh Nuffer, worry the bridge may be dangerous.
“You go around the bridge and your car practically catches air,” he said.
The speed limit drops from 65 mph to 55 mph as U.S. 40 approaches Interstate 80, and a 45 mph speed limit is posted on a yellow sign warning of the curve.
Local taxi driver Wayne Pillard said he doesn’t find the road dangerous because he drives the speed limit, but said he seems like the only driver who does.
“I drive that probably — and I’m not exaggerating — anywhere between four and 10 times a week,” he said. “I almost get creamed going around that corner going 45 because everyone else is going 60.”
Another local taxi driver, Kate Martyniak, said she tries to avoid the road when she has passengers in the car, both because of the jarring bumps and because she views it as dangerous.
“Frankly, we go around if we have guests in the car,” she said. “Cars fly through there and it’s frightening.”
Samuel said UDOT has a preservation treatment project in the works to maintain and seal the bridge. The timing has not been finalized, but Samuel indicated it would be in the next two to three years.
That project would put one to two inches of concrete over the length of the bridge, he said.
“It is on our radar to be able to address (it),” he said. “I think you’ll be surprised how much of a big difference an inch or two could make on a vehicle. … You’re definitely going to feel it.”
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