Expect delays during Old Highway 91 safety improvements project

In this file photo, construction on Old Highway 91 causes minor traffic delays as utility work is completed before reconstruction of the road begins, Santa Clara, Utah, Dec. 9, 2015 | File photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

IVINS – A road construction project in Santa Clara and Ivins is causing delays which could continue intermittently for months. However, the end result will be a safer road for both motorists and bicyclists.

Currently, Santa Clara City is doing utility work on the hill on the west end of the city in preparation for road reconstruction, Ivins Public Works Director/City Engineer Chuck Gillette said. The construction is causing minor traffic delays as workers close lanes and use flaggers to control traffic.

The long-term project will reconstruct old Highway 91 from Swiss Village by the Jacob Hamblin Home west to 200 East in Ivins. Bidding for the 1.5-mile project will open Dec. 15, Gillette said, and work will begin about 45 days after that.

The road will be widened from Santa Clara to Ivins, curbs and gutters will be installed; and wider shoulders and bike lanes will be added, making it safer for both bike racers and recreational cyclists, Gillette said. “There’s not much shoulder there; it’s very iffy.”

The road’s shoulders are currently quite narrow and at least one bicyclist has been hit by a car and killed in the area, Gillette said. The road itself is really rough and needs to be rebuilt.

Construction is expected to begin in February and will take four to six months to complete. Crews will try to keep the road open as much as possible, Gillette said, but significant traffic disruption is expected. Travel will be reduced to a single lane at times, or routed over gravel.

If traffic from Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona needs to be rerouted via old Hwy. 91, as sometimes happens due to accidents or the ongoing bridge reconstruction, closures in the construction zone would likely be suspended, Gillette said.

Ivins is looking for funding to continue the road improvements past 200 East in Ivins, west to the Shivwits Reservation, Gillette said. The current project is funded by Utah Department of Transportation and grants to Ivins and Santa Clara from the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Ed. note: Corrected for length of reconstruction.

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