Provo Center Street construction begins

Detours are shown in blue allowing travelers to travel around the Center Street construction between University Ave. and Freedom Blvd. The city is resurfacing this area to repair potholes. (Provo City)

Various areas of Provo’s Center Street and Downtown Provo will be under construction from Aug. 20 to Oct. 9, according to announcements made by Provo City Council.

Center Street will be closed between 400 West and 500 West and between University Ave. and Freedom Blvd. at various points throughout the construction process, according to the construction plans. Travelers can expect full closure of construction areas on most Sundays in August and September, including Aug. 27, Sept. 10 and Sept. 17, as well as a full closure of Center Street between 400 and 500 West from Aug. 21 to Sept. 1.

The city announced it will be resurfacing Center Street between University Ave. to Freedom Blvd. to repair potholes and other deterioration to improve driving conditions. Raised crosswalks will be constructed at 50 West and 450 West to enhance pedestrian safety.

The announced improvements to Center Street also include the addition of painted bike sharrows, or shared lane markings indicating the presence of bicyclists and motorcyclists. Engineers hope the sharrows will improve lane sharing and decrease vehicular speed.

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi wrote about the construction plan on her website advocating for the benefits that this construction will bring to the city.

“Our city’s continuous efforts to prioritize pedestrian safety, particularly in the heart of Provo, have led us to this crucial project,” Kaufusi said in her blog post.

The mayor also acknowledged that the construction may prove challenging, but emphasized the importance of taking time for improvements and preservation efforts.

“It’s always a delicate balance to manage growth with quality of life. Historic Downtown Provo is a unique, quaint destination location meant to be leisurely enjoyed. While challenging during the construction process, these necessary improvements will help preserve it and enhance its vibrancy,” Kaufusi said.

According to the Provo City Council, Provo City Engineer Gordon Haight believes the improvements will help Center Street become the multi-modal transportation area it’s meant to be.

“Center Street is designated as an ‘Enhanced Pedestrian Connection’ but does not prohibit motor traffic. With prioritization by the City Council and Mayor, we’re able to make cost-effective upgrades for a safer multi-modal transportation corridor more closely matching its intended use,” Haight said.

A proposal advocating for increased safety in downtown Provo was first put forward in 2018, according to the director of Downtown Provo Inc. Quinn Peterson. Peterson is excited to see safety improvements finally become a reality.

“Pedestrian safety has been a big concern of ours for several years,” Peterson said. “The speed limit is 15, but the average speed is 35. This makes crosswalks dangerous and backing out of parking stalls difficult.”

Scott Glenn, manager of Pioneer Book, told the Provo City Council that many businesses have likewise advocated for reduced traffic speeds.

“Provo businesses have been asking Provo City for many years to reduce traffic speed and pedestrian safety on Center Street. We know there will be an impact to our customers for a short period of time, but we look forward to the improved downtown experience people will have when the improvements are completed,” Glenn said.

In addition to road repair and safety improvements, construction plans for Center Street include more community gathering spaces. Outdoor dining areas will be built on the northeast corners of 100 West and 200 West, and existing planter strips will be removed and replaced by open space for the community.

Additionally, Kaufusi announced that the city will be implementing enhanced lighting on Center Street.

The Provo City Council expects construction to adhere to their released timeframe but does warn citizens that inclement weather or other unforeseen issues may delay the construction.

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