ST. GEORGE – The 2013 Dixie Regional Transportation Expo was held at the Dixie Center Tuesday and highlighted road and trail projects taking place throughout Washington County.
Utah Department of Transportation
Bluff Street – While funding has been procured for the Bluff Street-Sunset Boulevard portion of the proposed reconfiguration of Bluff Street in St. George, Jerry Amundsen of HW Lochner Engineering said there hasn’t been much movement on the project.
“There’s still a question of if (the designers) want to go this route,” he said. Other options for Bluff Street’s reconfiguration remain on the table, he said.
The current design, called a “jughandle,” is still the preferred design, Amundsen said, because it has the least impact of the proposed designs for the intersection and is the most economical. He also said that, due to public concern, UDOT is taking a step back and re-evaluating its options for the area.
Still, the jughandle, as well as the proposed Median U-turns where Bluff Street intersects with West Tabernacle and 200 North are the preferred alternatives, Amundsen said.
Southern Parkway – The Southern Parkway begins at Exit 2 on Interstate 15 and wraps and will extend 33 miles, ending at state Route 9 via 2800 West in Hurricane. Portions of the beltway are already completed, with others still waiting on funding. A segment that passes through Warner Valley will be constructed last.
In the meantime, once the parkway is open, travelers will pass though Washington via Washington Fields Road and Washington Dam Road, which will be used as a temporary connection.
From Exit 2 to state Route 9, the Southern Parkway will pass by the St. George Municipal Airport and Sand Hollow Reservoir.
Exit 8 – Kevin Kitchen, public information officer for UDOT, said UDOT is looking to begin construction on a better interchange for I-15 Exit 8, or the St. George Boulevard Exit, starting this year. UDOT also hopes to have it done in within a year’s time. Kitchen said the going design for Exit 8 is a “diamond interchange.”
Improvements to Exit 8 are a part of an overall project to improve traffic along the I-15 corridor in Washington County, Kitchen said.
City of Hurricane
One of the projects Hurricane promoted this year was the creation of new trails within the city limits, as well as connecting with the many pre-existing trails from St. George and Washington.
“That’s our, biggest, loftiest plan, though it’ll take quite a few years to get it put together,” said Chris Bolstad of the Hurricane City Trails Committee.
Bolstad said that the trails committee is working with the City of Hurricane to get bike paths included with new streets being put in with new developments in the area. Another goal is to create a multipurpose trail that runs around Quail Lake.
The overall goal, Bolstad said, is to establish connectively with pre-existing trails in the region, as well as with city parks. Some projects could take between one to 20 years, he said, and added everything on the trail committee’s master plan is still in the proposal phase.
City of St. George
Cameron Cutler, transportation service manager for the City of St. George, said the city has three non-UDOT related projects it is currently addressing.
Indian Hills Drive – Cutler said that a section of the road is very old and doesn’t have a shoulder for cyclists or pedestrians. He said the city wants to add shoulders and add a turning lane. This includes a 66-foot right-of-way that the city wants to build out as well. Improvements to Indian Hills Drive relate more to general safety than anything else, he said
3000 East to Mall Drive – The city has some funding for this project, Cutler said. As additional funding is gathered, 3000 East will connect a Mall Drive bridge. “This could happen in the next five to 10 years,” he said.
Little Valley – “We’re getting a lot of growth in Little Valley,” Cutler said. There are a lot of people traveling the old road that is between 22 and 23 feet wide. Many children attending the nearby elementary and intermediate schools walk to school alongside the road too. In order to enhance overall safety, the city plans on widening the road in the future.
“It won’t add capacity,” Cutler said, “but it’ll be safer.”
Michael Shaw, public works director for Washington, said the primary issue the city is dealing with is the Green Springs Drive and Telegraph Road intersection.
“It’s congested,” Shaw said. The intersection has become a problem, especially during the peak hours of driving. “A good example is Black Friday. We had 20 cars backed up onto the interstate trying to get off. This intersection is broken.”
Shaw said the primary goal of any improvements to the intersection will be to move the traffic forward while trying to strike a balance between traffic flow and businesses. As with the proposed reconfiguration of Bluff Street, right-of-way issues may potentially be raised as the project moves forward.
For the time being, Shaw said his department has to wait on an answer concerning the matter from the Washington City Council. He would like an answer as soon as possible, because the intersection is a continuing and dangerous problem, he said.
The estimated cost of improving the intersection is $6 million, Shaw said.
Suntran will be gaining two new buses in the next 14 months.
At some point in the future, Suntran is also looking to extend service into Bloomington and Bloomington Hills.
And there are considerations to extend service into Ivins in the near future. Service into Ivins is projected to be commuter-based, meaning buses will run two trips in the morning and two trips in the evening, rather than a continually-run fixed route. The commuter route is also considered the more economic option according to the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“Ivins City has had some discussions with St. George about the possibility of creating a commuter bus route out to Ivins,” Ivins City Manager and City Attorney Dale Coulam said. “It is not part of a county-wide plan, just a possibility of getting some type of bus service out to Ivins. No definite bus route or schedule has been established yet.”
St. George News staff reporter Alexa Verdugo Morgan contributed to this article.
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