ST. GEORGE — The beginning of state Route 9, the well-traveled road to Zion National Park, will undergo a face-lift down the road that will include widened lanes, multiple intersections, frontage roads and more, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.
However, just exactly when that face-lift will occur remains to be seen due to a current lack of funding.
“What we’re waiting on now is money,” Kevin Kitchen, a UDOT spokesman, told St. George News.
UDOT recently released its completed state environmental study for the a 6.5-mile section of SR-9 stretching from Exit 16 on Interstate 15 to the area of 2800 West where the road will intersect with the Southern Parkway. The findings of the study resulted in the preferred design for what is called the “SR-9 Improved” project, which aims to turn that section of SR-9 into an express way.
A purpose of the project is to accommodate future and increasing traffic use as development and population growth in Washington County continue, Kitchen said.
It is also seen as a way to help deal with the traffic caused by increasing visitation to Zion National Park, which has garnered more than 4 million visitors annually in recent years.
“This is a high priority route for Washington County,” Kitchen said, the same sentiment he expressed during the Dixie Regional Transportation Expo held in February.
“We know we’ve got a lot of traffic headed to Zion, and we have a lot of development happening all throughout the county,” Kitchen said during the expo.
However, while details of what the future holds for that segment of SR-9 have been released, there is currently no funding set aside for the project, which has a rough estimate of $180 million overall.
It can take anywhere between five to 10 years or more to line up funding as the state determines what projects are a priority from year to year, Kitchen said, so there currently is no timeline in place for when work will be begin on SR-9.
Due to the potential overall cost, UDOT may divide the project into phases as funding and demand dictates, Kitchen said.
What will the SR-9 Improved project entail?
According to the final state environmental study, the first 6.5 miles of SR-9 will become a high-speed express way with a width of between 360 and 600 feet in parts. There will also be four lanes: two 12-foot lanes going in either direction and a center median ranging from 22 to 50 feet.
Intersections at 6300 West (Telegraph Road), 5300 West, 3700 West, 3400 West and 2800 West (Southern Parkway) will be converted to grade-separated interchanges.
The intersections at 3700 West and 3400 West will also have split diamond interchange connections to frontage roads providing access to the Quail Lake Estates and Lava Bluff communities along SR-9.
Due to existing safety concerns related to getting on and off SR-9 from Quail Creek Estates, Kitchen said UDOT personnel are currently looking at ways to address the issue much sooner than waiting on the SR-9 Improved project to commence.
Other improvements to SR-9 will include a consistent 12-foot shoulder on the road that will cater to active transportation. Frontage Road will also be striped for bicycle use, according to UDOT’s final study.
A pathway along SR-9 improving pedestrian and bicycle connectivity is also being planned in cooperation with Hurricane, Washington City and UDOT. The exact location of the pathway has yet to be determined.
UDOT’s final state environmental study can be accessed online here.
Hard copies for public view can found at the following locations:
- Hurricane City Hall, 147 N. 870 West, Hurricane.
- Washington City Hall, 111 N. 100 East, Washington City.
- Washington County Office, 197 E. Tabernacle St, St. George.
- UDOT Region Four, 210 W. 800 South, Richfield.
- UDOT St. George Office, 5340 W. 200 South, Hurricane.
- UDOT Headquarters, 4501 S. Constitution Blvd, Taylorsville.
- Lochner, 113 N. 200 East, #3, St. George.
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