ADOT changes hours of operation in Gorge due to weekend traffic delays

Traffic backed up on I-15 near the Virgin River Gorge, Aug. 11, 2012 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Weekend travelers headed southbound on Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge were not a happy lot. Sunday, in particular, proved to be a bad day for motorists. Multi-hour delays and miles of backed-up traffic led to less-than-complimentary reviews for the Arizona Department of Transportation. In response, ADOT is changing its hours of operation in the Gorge.

Since the end of July, ADOT has been repaving sections of I-15 through the Gorge. As work progresses, ADOT issues advisories to the public on road restrictions associated with the repaving, along with a general schedule of when and where the repaving will take place.  The latest advisory was for Aug. 11-13. Travel would be restricted to a single lane between the hours of 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. MST, and speed was to be lowered to 45 mph in the construction zone.

In theory, things should have progressed smoothly, even with the lowered speed limited. However, that wasn’t the case.

Unhappy motorists

On Saturday, St. George News reader Stephen Hughes posted on the St. George News Facebook page: “…I-15 in the gorge, southbound only is backed up 7 miles due to road paving, expect 1-plus hour delays.”

Sunday, however, is when travelers’ woes really picked up.

Hughes posted: “Traffic is backed up to Utah state line, approximately 10 miles. Use alt route if you are going south.”

Susan Sanders also posted: “My daughter (was) stuck in that gorge trying to get to (Las Vegas) airport to pick up her husband. They should just close the gorge and make people go the old Highway 91…a four hour wait to get through.”

Comments on St. George News website under ADOT’s weekend advisory followed much the same vein as the Facebook posters.

Weekender wrote: “Traveled through on Sunday and traffic was terrible, took three hours to get through. That being said I appreciate the work getting done, it was desperately needed.”

ADOT’s response

Mackenzie Kirby, a spokeswoman for ADOT, said they had received many comments on the delay in the Gorge. “We expected some delays, but nothing like this,” she said.

“Because of the significant backup,” Kirby said, “we’re switching to nighttime hours starting tomorrow.”

The new hours of operation for the repaving project – which will be shifted to the northbound lanes Wednesday – will go from 7 p.m. to 11 a.m. MST.

“We really regret that delay,” Kirby said.

As for the fires currently ignited in the area of the Gorge, Kirby said they had not impacted repaving efforts.

What follows is ADOT’s traffic advisory through Aug. 14:

Work to repave a 16-mile segment of I-15 will continue through the week of Aug. 13, according to ADOT. The $11.6 million project, which is scheduled for completion in October, includes removal of a layer of the existing pavement and repaving the roadway from the Virgin River Gorge to the Utah state line.

The work schedule is being changed to nighttime hours and crews will be paving between the hours of 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. MST, seven days per week. On Tuesday, Aug. 14, the right lane of southbound I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge will be closed overnight. Beginning Wednesday, crews will shift to northbound I-15, requiring closure of the right lane during work hours.

The speed limit through the work zone will be reduced to 45 mph.

The work zone will be clearly marked by temporary barricades and signage. ADOT advises drivers to allow additional time to reach their destinations and to proceed through the work zone with caution, comply with the reduced speed limit, and be alert for construction equipment and personnel.

ADOT works to inform the public about planned highway restrictions, but there is a possibility that unscheduled closures or restrictions may occur. Weather can also affect a project schedule. To stay up-to-date with the latest highway conditions around the state, visit the ADOT Traveler Information Center at or call 511.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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  • San August 14, 2012 at 3:58 am

    We were heading into AZ, to buy lottery tickets, and had about a 15minute delay. By the time we turned around in Beaver Dam to come home the delay seemed to extend another 5miles…in under an hour. A lot of the cars we were stuck with had CA and NV plates on them…I can only imagine their frustration at the unexpected delays.

  • Tyler August 15, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Nice to see ADOT came to their senses by doing the work at night.

  • Stan June 13, 2014 at 11:36 am

    What is the current time delay traveling from Las Vegas to Cedar City, Utah on I-15.Today’s date is June 13th,2014. The updates seem to be out dated where ever I look. If someone out there knows I would certainly be grateful for the information. Thank You, Stan

    • Joyce Kuzmanic June 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      Stan, we have not been alerted to any extraordinary incidents this afternoon so looking at this as a normal day with the ongoing bridge construction, you might expect travel through the gorge to move along between 20-40 mph depending on the section. If it normally takes you just shy of two hours from Las Vegas to St. George, you might anticipate an extra half hour barring accidents or incidents on the Interstate that impact traffic. Keep an eye on your STGnews app, Facebook or site – we do post when we learn of those kinds of impacts.

      Remember there is an alternate route if you are midway to St. George and learn of slowing: Take Highway 91 which bypasses the gorge entirely, intersecting with I-15 at Littlefield, Arizona, to the south, and connecting to St. George at the north via Santa Clara and Sunset Boulevard.

      I hope that helps, we wish you safe travel and good fishing at Navajo Lake. 🙂

      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

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