In an effort to preserve the pavement in Emigration Canyon, Salt Lake County and Emigration Canyon Metro Township will rehabilitate the asphalt on Emigration Canyon Road, from the Emigration Township line on the west to SR-65 on the east. This project began on June 15, and will continue through mid-September 2020.
This rehabilitation project will also include some drainage improvements and adjustments to striping for bike lanes, where existing roadway width allows, to improve safety in the canyon. One-way flagging operations will be in place intermittently throughout construction. Moderate delays are expected so motorists are advised to plan their travel times accordingly. If an alternate route is available for your destination, please plan to take it and help reduce congestion through the work zone.
For questions or concerns, please contact the project team at 877-495-4240 or via email to
This project is nearing completion. Only a couple of work items remain.
Update for Cyclists:
Emigration Canyon is open to cyclists and all recreational users, at all times.
Steel plates are expected to be on the roadway through the end of next week. Please use caution while riding in the canyon. Thank you for your patience.
Upcoming Work Activities:
Crews will finish raising all remaining utilities back up to street level by the end of this week. Steel plates will be in use to cover the newly poured concrete around the manhole lids through the end of next week.
Next week, crews will be removing and replacing incorrect striping throughout the canyon.
On Friday, September 25, crews will begin work near the Emigration Canyon Road/Pioneer Ridge Road intersection to improve roadway drainage, and install additional curb and gutter. This is expected to take about one week to complete.
*Schedule is subject to change due to weather or unforeseen circumstances.
Resident access to Pioneer Ridge Road will be maintained while work is being done in the area over the next week.
Traffic impacts for the remainder of work activities will be minor. Motorists and cyclists may encounter steel plates in the roadway, intermittent lane shifts, brief stretches of one-way flagging, and shoulder closures.
Please reduce speeds, exercise caution and stay alert while driving through construction zones.
Area residents should expect increased noise, dust, and vibration associated with construction.
Notice to Cyclists/Skaters:
Due to the one-way traffic necessitated by this project, Emigration Canyon was CLOSED to recreational cyclists and skaters during construction. With one lane inaccessible, the road wasn't wide enough to safely accommodate both motor vehicles and bicycles/skaters. Safety was the number one priority of our team, and the decision was made to close the canyon to recreational cyclists and skaters in order to prevent accidents. Suggested alternate routes included:
City Creek Canyon (5.7 miles to the top)
Wasatch Boulevard Out-and-Back (16 miles round trip)
Millcreek Canyon from Wasatch Boulevard (18 mile round trip)
Wasatch Boulevard to Big Cottonwood Canyon (39 miles round trip)
Wasatch Boulevard to Little Cottonwood Canyon (35 miles round trip)
For more information about cycling routes, visit:
Notice to Residents:
Construction is limited to daylight hours Monday through Friday. Some weekend work may be required. Be aware that increased noise, dust, vibration, and congestion will occur during construction so please be patient. However, if you have concerns please contact either Jed Parker, Project Engineer, at or call the project hotline at 877-495-4240.
Residents who commute to work via bicycle will not be stopped from continuing to do so if there is no other option available to them. However, bicycle commuters should be aware that this route will be hazardous during construction. We cannot guarantee a bike-friendly work zone and warn that you will be entering the area at your own risk.
Notice to Pedestrians/Runners:
There are no sidewalks along the project corridor, so pedestrians could still walk or run along the shoulders of the road out of the way of traffic. Narrow shoulders, heavy equipment, debris, and other hazards are likely to exist within the work zone. While we discourage these activities during construction, please be extra cautious and attentive if you plan to walk or run in the canyon.
Response to Cycling Community Comments:
Our project team would like to sincerely thank those members of the Cycling Community who have reached out to provide their thoughts and suggestions on the planned closure of Emigration Canyon.
First of all, please understand that this decision was not taken lightly. Many options were discussed, but the final decision came down to one of safety. As many of you know, the canyon is very narrow. When the contractor closes one lane for work and establishes a safe work zone, the remaining lane, which will require flagging, in most locations may be less than 11 feet wide including any shoulder. That is too narrow to safely support a bicycle and a vehicle. On evenings and weekends there will very likely be open milled surfaces with a 2+ inch drop from the roadway surface. Vehicles have very little problem navigating those conditions. For cyclists it would be very dangerous.
There are a few other things you need to know about the project that will help with understanding our decision:
First of all, the pavement in the canyon is in terrible condition. We have estimated significant areas that require what we call soft spot repair (places where the pavement and sub-material must be completely removed and re-installed, essentially reconstructing sections of the shoulder or roadway, which takes significantly more time).
Second, there are several areas where the contractor will be adjusting the profile (slope) of the road in order to improve drainage,
Finally, crews will be replacing a 24-inch storm drain pipe that will cut across the entire roadway at one location.
The contractor is allowed to have two work zones (up to two miles each) active at any given time so they can replace the pipe or get out ahead of the soft spot repair while they remove and replace the asphalt in another area. We gave the contractor this latitude in an attempt to get the project completed as quickly as possible.
Asphalt paving requires temperatures of 65 degrees and rising, so putting the project off until late-fall or winter is not an option. This project entails about 90-days of asphalt work, so construction must take place during the summer – particularly in a canyon where temperatures tend to cool more quickly.
The project will be constructed in segments so there may be the possibility of keeping some of the canyon open to cyclists, but it needs to be segmented in a way that makes sense for all parties. We need to take all factors into consideration when looking at the segments. There
is no parking available in the canyon to allow segments that start and end within the canyon. We also need to give the contractor flexibility in doing the work so that everything can be completed this year. However, we may be able to consider the following:
Keep the East end open for cycling (from SR-65 to the turnoff to Pinecrest/Killyon's Canyon) while crews work on the West end (mouth of the canyon to the turnoff to Pinecrest/Killyon's Canyon). When the West section is complete, we could open it for cycling while they complete the work on the East end. The order of work could also be reversed.
This option is being discussed between the Mayor and the contractor.
We know that the loss of the opportunity to use this extremely popular cycling route for the summer is a huge inconvenience, but also know that once it is complete it will be a safe and more comfortable ride on the new pavement for many years to come.
The Emigration Canyon Rehabilitation Team
Benefits to Cyclists Once the Project is Complete:
Concerning the new striping, here is the planned layout:
From the Emigration Township line (near Rotary Glen Park) to the Fire Station (5025 E. Emigration Canyon Road) in the eastbound, uphill direction, there will be a five (5) foot bike lane.
From the Emigration Township line (near Rotary Glen Park) to the Fire Station (5025 E. Emigration Canyon Road) in the westbound, downhill direction, it will remain “Share the Road.”
Between the Fire Station and the turnoff to Pinecrest/Killyon's Canyon, it will remain “Share the Road." There is insufficient room through that section to stripe for new bike lanes.
Between the turnoff to Pinecrest/Killyon's Canyon and the Little Mountain Summit, there will be five (5) foot bike lanes on both sides of the road.
From the Little Mountain Summit to SR-65, once again it will be “Share the Road” because of how narrow the road is.
We very much wanted to expand the bike lanes through the entire canyon, but the project simply was not funded to be able to add the width necessary to support additional bike lanes.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Summer is prime time for recreation in Emigration Canyon – can’t you put this off until the fall/winter?
We have gotten questions about why we chose to schedule the Emigration Canyon Paving Project during the summer, which is also the busiest cycling, hiking, and travel season. Our decision considered several factors. The most important one was an engineering judgement balancing the amount of work to be performed against canyon conditions and seasonal concerns. The project is estimated to require 90 days to complete. Given best practices to not pave after October 1 (see UDOT Recommendations below) work must begin on or about July 1. There is always a risk of potential delays in construction (possible causes include unexpected issues with the road, COVID-19 impacts, fire closures, rain days, or unforeseen equipment issues).
The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has a policy for no paving after October 15 except under special circumstances which require authorization from the Department’s Materials Group. The reason for this is that, after this date, it becomes harder to meet the temperature requirements which affect asphalt quality, leading to poorly compacted pavement that allows in too much water. This means the asphalt will deteriorate quickly (see Asphalt Paving 101 below for more details). Additionally, because of earlier cold and/or inclement weather, UDOT does not want paving done in Wasatch Front canyons after October 1.
Asphalt Paving 101 - Three Temperatures to Watch
When laying down asphalt, several important factors are closely monitored. Most people know that asphalt is put down when it is very hot, but that is only one consideration - other temperature measurements are just as important. Professionals in the paving industry know that even a small mistake in any aspect of the process can lead to asphalt that does not stand the test of time. Three vital temperatures determine the strength and quality of the final product, as well as the ease of paving. And an easy paving job is an efficient paving job which wraps up on time!
So, what is the right way to approach asphalt temperature?
Asphalt Mix Temperature
Not surprisingly, hot-mix asphalt is delivered to job sites at high temperatures. It usually arrives at temperatures between 275 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Letting asphalt significantly cool down before application is not recommended. If the mix falls below 185 degrees, it becomes too rigid to properly compact over the paving surface.
This is the temperature of the environment around you. For an effective application of asphalt mix, ambient temperatures should exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also preferable for temperatures to be rising during paving, rather than falling. For this reason, pavers will often check weather conditions and schedule a time when conditions align well. Wind conditions are important too, as they can quickly cool asphalt mix by a significant degree.
The temperature of the ground being paved is the final piece of the puzzle. Like the ambient temperature, it should also be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Traditional temperature probes are not great for this since they cannot be adequately placed within the pavement, so specialized infrared thermometers are usually utilized.
What happens when the mix of temperatures is not ideal?
In general, the result is poor quality asphalt which does not last as long as expected. The actual asphalt temperature plays a major role in how well the mix solidifies. If the ambient temperature is too low, the asphalt cools too fast, and it will lack density and will most likely start to lose its consistency. This decreases the smoothness of the surface, and the asphalt may absorb too much water. If the ambient air temperature is acceptable, but the ground temperature is too low, similar problems occur. Cooler ground temperature brought on by shorter nights and higher elevation is the main reason for having different completion dates in the canyons as opposed to the Salt Lake Valley.
What happens if there are delays and the paving is not complete by October 1?
A decision will need to be made whether paving can continue or if work should be suspended until spring. That decision will be based on the weather and product supply at the time. Asphalt suppliers generally do not produce asphalt between mid-October and mid-April. Supply can become an issue as projects rush to finish before the weather changes.
What will the final surface of the roadway be after the project is completed?
After the project is over, the road surface will be brand new asphalt. We will not be chip sealing as a part of this project.
What about residents of Emigration Canyon who commute by bicycle? What will they do?
Though not encouraged, the project team will not stop residents of Emigration Canyon who commute by bicycle from continuing to do so. Residents who communte by bicycle should be aware that this route will be hazardous once construction begins.
Will the power lines be buried in the road as a part of this project?
No, the power and phone lines will not be buried as a part of this project.