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5.4 Transportation Impacts

The rail yard is located near the intersection of Interstates 15 and 80, which had to be closed. In addition, some local streets were also closed.

The South Salt Lake City Police Department, Department of Public Safety, and Highway Patrol were involved in the closing of the roadways. Roadways were quickly blocked with barricades and barrels.

As the neighborhoods were evacuating, at approximately 15:30 on Sunday, March 6, 2005, the local streets were barricaded with roadblocks to prevent the reentry of residents and the entry of unauthorized personnel.

At approximately 12:45 on Sunday, March 6, 2005, Interstates 15 and 80 were shut down, which took a little more than 1 ½ hours. Initially, Utah Department of Transportation resources were used to close the interstates. Once it was determined that the closure would take longer than anticipated, it was decided to utilize an authorized traffic management contractor to close down the interstate with barriers and electronic signs.

State troopers were sent to patrol and monitor the closed freeways to ensure motorists did not drive onto the roadways.

The main means of communication to the traveling public was with fixed and portable dynamic message signs, 511 travel services, highway advisory radio, and the commuter link Web site. It was felt that the notification worked well.

There was an initial backup of approximately 1 to 2 miles when the interstate was initially closed, but this was quickly dissipated. While not associated with this incident, the Utah Department of Transportation conducted a public opinion poll and 70 percent of the people polled would change their travel pattern if information was provided. After the initial closure, traffic was manageable.

February 6, 2006
Publication #FHWA-HOP-08-014