ST. GEORGE — The Washington County commission recommitted $100,000 Tuesday for a grant to help with a transportation project for Zion National Park.
The renovation project will include a widened west entrance to the park, another entrance station, new bike trails that lead into the park from Springdale, a new shuttle fleet and a reconfigured shuttle turnaround, Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said at the County Commission meeting Tuesday.
People on bikes, cars, shuttles or their feet will be able to more easily pass from the newly reconstructed state Route 9 from Springdale into the park once the renovations are completed, Bradybaugh said. The previous project on SR-9 was fronted by the Utah Department of Transportation and was completed in May.
“We’re building upon the UDOT project at the park entrance in making this seamless activity for transportation, whether you’re a pedestrian, a bicyclist, a motorist or using the transit system.”
The entire project will cost nearly $35 million dollars, and Zion National Park will be asking the U.S. Department of Transportation for $15.7 million to help with funding. The other funds will be coming from the National Park Service, UDOT and other local partners like Washington County, Bradybaugh said.
Last year, Washington County promised matching funds of $100,000 under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, which was through the U.S. DOT. In April, the TIGER grant was replaced by the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Transportation Discretionary, or BUILD, grant, which is why the County Commission needed to recommit the $100,000 this year.
Under the new application for the BUILD grant, Bradybaugh said officials are revising the application to better reflect the desire to connect the newly reconstructed SR-9 with the entrance into the national park.
He also asked the County Commission for a letter of support when submitting the application for the BUILD grant.
“We supported it last time, and I think it’s a good idea,” Commissioner Victor Iverson said.
Commission chairman Zachary Renstrom was absent from Tuesday’s meeting due to a family member’s funeral, but with votes in favor of the motion to support the “Zion Canyon Multi-Modal Access Project” from commissioners Dean Cox and Iverson, it passed unanimously.
Primary election canvas
The County Commission also accepted the canvas for last month’s primary elections. Gil Almquist won for seat A on the commission and Rep. Brad Last was reelected as the representative for Utah House District 71.
According to statistics from the canvass, there were 19,939 Republican voters in the primaries, which included 759 that were counted after election day from provisional or absentee ballots. Republicans were the only ones who got to vote in this year’s primary elections because no other political party in Southern Utah had enough candidates for a primary.
Among all eligible Republican voters, there was about a 43 percent turnout, which “isn’t bad for the middle of June,” Iverson said.
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