ST. GEORGE – State, regional and local transportation officials came together once again Tuesday to share current and future projects with the public at the 2015 Dixie Regional Transportation Expo in St. George.
Utah Department of Transportation
UDOT continues to work on projects involving the Interstate 15 and Bluff Street Corridors as well as the Southern Parkway and other areas in Washington County. However, actual construction will be limited this year, as many projects are still going through the design and study phases.
“So far, as I-15 itself is concerned, a lot of work is dormant this year,” Kevin Kitchen, UDOT’s public information manager, said.
UDOT is looking at widening lanes north of Leeds around milepost 22, Kitchen said. Some work will also be done on State Street – state Route 9 – in LaVerkin, on the bridge there. This will include resurfacing, renovation and preservation work to the structure, he said.
Interstate 15-related projects
UDOT’s next big I-15 project may be south of the Dixie Drive Interchange between mileposts 4 and 6.
“That is our most critical area for widening,” said Kim Manwill, UDOT’s project manager for the I-15 Corridor, referring to the point where the highway narrows as it passes over the Virgin River.
Other areas that will be affecting part of I-15 at some point in the future include projects being pursued by the City of St. George and Washington City.
St. George officials want to connect East Red Hills Parkway to Red Cliffs Drive at some point between 1680 East and Mall Drive via a highway underpass. UDOT and city officials met during a recent work meeting of the St. George City Council and reviewed potential designs that ran between $13 million to $35 million.
In Washington City, a possible exit is being considered at milepost 11. Planning for this project is currently in the preliminary stages.
Both the Mall Drive underpass and Exit 11 projects, if and when they go through, could help relieve pressure on the Warm Springs interchange at Exit 10, Kitchen said.
Bluff Street-Sunset Boulevard intersection and Bluff Street Corridor
With work concluding on the Red Hills Parkway Interchange last year, UDOT is now looking at the Bluff Street-Sunset Boulevard intersection in St. George. Since the location of a possible “jug handle” formation was met with public opposition, UDOT is now considering what Kitchen called a “high-T” intersection that would allow for more free-flowing traffic and eliminate some of the traffic signals currently in operation.
More details on the high-T formation, including a video of how it is designed to work, can be found on UDOT’s Bluff Street Project website.
“This design is still subject to change,” Kitchen noted.
As for Bluff Street proper, Kitchen said, “We’re revisiting that.”
UDOT still plans to add new travel lanes and widen portions of the street but is looking to do so in a manner that has the least impact on surrounding property, Kitchen said.
Base work on Section 3B of the Southern Parkway, also known as state Route 7, is being done in order to connect the finished portions of the Parkway between the St. George Municipal Airport and Sand Hollow Reservoir.
Though base infrastructure is being put in place for a divided expressway, Kitchen said, the 3B segment of the Southern Parkway, expected to be finished about December, will be a single roadway with single lanes of travel for each direction
“You’ll be able to go all the way from I-15 to Sand Hollow on the Parkway,” Kitchen said.
As additional funding becomes available and development occurs in the area, Section 3B will transition into two separate two-lane roadways, he said.
St. George City
Two major projects planned in St. George City are the widening of Indian Hills Drive and improvements on south River Road, Public Works Director Cameron Cutler said. The Indian Hills Drive project will start soon, he said, while the River Road project is not yet funded by the City Council.
Plans for widening River Road between 2450 South and Brigham Road are currently in the design phase, and other planned improvements include adding a traffic light at River Road and Horseman Park Drive.
Active transportation in St. George
Active transportation – which is largely associated with bicycling and running – is a concept that is quickly gaining traction, with Southern Utah’s location and climate playing a big part, Marc Mortensen, assistant to the St. George city manager, said.
“We are the first city in the state of Utah to create a trail system, and we anticipate making critical connections to make it more usable,” Mortensen said, “and connecting those trail systems to commercial areas moving forward.”
A newly formed Active Transportation Committee represents the city, the cycling community, the business community and the health community, advising city planners as they build and maintain infrastructure.
Active transportation has begun to play a large part in UDOT’s design process, as well, Kitchen said, pointing at the recently completed Red Hills Parkway intersection as an example of where accommodations, both walking and cycling, were incorporated.
St. George Municipal Airport
St. George Municipal Airport Manager Rich Stehmeier said service for a new route will begin March 6 from St. George to Denver and back.
“The flight leaves about 6:30 in the morning, and it’ll get you back here about 9 or 9:30,” Stehmeier said.
Previously, anyone traveling to Denver would have to spend the night.
In addition, the timing of the new flight will allow travelers from the East Coast to connect through Denver and fly into St. George in the evening.
Airport officials are currently working on getting more flights to more destinations such as Phoenix, Los Angeles, Alaska and Canada. Data generated by the airline and travel industry shows there is a market for such flights to and from the St. George airport, Stehmeier said.
Upcoming transportation projects in Ivins include widening Old Highway 91 from the west end of Santa Clara to 200 East in Ivins. The improvements will include curb, gutter, bicycle lanes and a separate multi-use path.
In Washington City, upcoming projects include safety improvements to Telegraph Street from Washington Parkway to Landfill Road, including the installation of rumble strips and guardrails. The city is also widening and resurfacing Washington Fields Road from 3650 South to 3090 South.
Hurricane is currently working on a road improvement project on 600 North between 200 West and State Street – State Route 9 – and on two parks. The Dixie Springs Park is currently under construction, while the park at Grandpa’s Pond, near Quail Creek Reservoir, is in the planning stages, city GIS Coordinator Joe Rhodes said.
SunTran has recently added two new routes: one to Ivins and a second to south Dixie Drive and Bloomington, Suntran Transit Manager Fred Davies said. The new routes are already being well utilized.
SunTran is additionally in the process of adding shelters at bus stops, Davies said. There are currently only three bus shelters out of the 140 total SunTran bus stops, and the plan is to build four new shelters each year.
“There will be a shelter within the next two months at Lins, at Southwest Center, and then Target will be the next one after that,” Davies said.
Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance
Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance representatives encouraged attendees at the expo to fill out a survey. The group is gathering information about why residents do, or do not, bike in their communities and what specific areas need improvement.
“So we can give the communities the planning tools they need to identify the needs of their community,” SUBA representative John Reed said.
SUBA is a nonprofit group that has been working with communities and agencies to advance bicycle use and safety in Southern Utah.
St. George News Assistant Editor Julie Applegate contributed to this report.
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