By Cory Bickmore
Salt Lake City, Utah – In a move celebrated by local commuters, Utah’s Department of Transportation unveiled its plan yesterday to construct temple worker only lanes along interstates and other highways along the urbanized Wasatch Front.
The unprecedented step comes as the LDS Church prepares to build a temple in Saratoga Springs, adding to the Wasatch Front’s rapidly growing number of temples ranging from Payson to Provo to Brigham City. These well-attended houses of worship—with more likely on the way—have forced UDOT to find a means to cope with the mounting logjam of freeway traffic.
“We must protect our way of life,” says UDOT Director James Stone during a driving tour of the intended expansion areas. “This temple boom opens a slow flood of sweet, white-haired motorists. Sure, that means politer drivers, but that also means I get to work later. Needed ‘em out of the way. Watch me cut off this semi. Take that, you moron!”
The $145 million monster project begins next week with simultaneous starts on I-15, I-215, I-80, and the Bangerter Highway. Construction is expected to last fourteen months.
Unlike Utah’s carpool lanes that sit on the inside left, temple lanes will run along the right of the existing outside lane, built an extra five feet wide to accommodate the larger cars preferred by temple workers. Speeds will post at fifty-five miles per hour, but UDOT considers that more of a goal than a limit.
“Speed really isn’t the right word,” Stone explains while flying along the left shoulder around a mile-long traffic snarl. “You hop in that lane, you’re doing thirty-nine behind Brother Gary.”
“Think it through,” he adds, steering with his knees while firing off a text message. “Who in their right mind wants a bunch of inconsiderate, ill-tempered road hogs blowing up and down the freeway at twenty over? Everyone, that’s who! Means we hit our exit ramps quicker. Can’t have these temple drivers flushing it down the john.”
The news has Utah’s LDS senior population abuzz.
Wenda Cardon, 83, of Cottonwood Heights has volunteered every Friday in the Jordan River Temple since its dedication in 1981. When asked about the plan, she beams.
“Heavens, yes. It’s wonderful. In fact, my visiting teacher was telling me at quilting group Wednesday before last—she sews the most beautiful embroidery; what a jewel—her grandson’s family lives next to the Draper Temple, away high on that mountainside, how they don’t freeze to death up there during the winter I don’t know, but she prays for them all the time, and she should, because he has the three most lovely girls you ever did see, the way their mother dresses them in those matching blue skirts, they’re just a vision.”
To use the lanes, workers will slide their temple recommends into a transparent sleeve mounted on the windshield, allowing overhead sensors to scan the barcodes every half mile. That way, Utah Highway Patrol officers can use their UDOT computer link to instantly verify an authorized vehicle. Turn signals must be left on at all times.
UHP promises stiff penalties to non-temple workers caught using the lanes. The first offense will earn violators a hard copy of the general conference address “Honesty—A Moral Compass” by James E. Faust, the second, “Small Acts Lead to Great Consequences” by Gordon B. Hinckley and a $950 fine.
“I’m tickled,” concludes Stone while cutting across four lanes to make our exit. “Temple workers get an easy glide to their destination, we safeguard Utah’s superior driving style, and UHP makes bank off the boneheads. It’s win-win-win.”
Cardon smiles at the thought.
“How I love our Utah temples! The Salt Lake, Provo, San Diego, Nauvoo— Yes? What’s that, honey? Oh, I never use the freeway. There are cars on that thing.”
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