Washington City houses demolished in preparation for new Exit 11 on Interstate 15

ST. GEORGE — Washington City residents might have noticed a few houses and trees missing from the west end of Main Street. 

A photo of the lot cleared where the new Main Street in Washington will run underneath Interstate 15 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George News

Near the Interstate 15 overpass, fruit from the missing trees is rotting on the ground, and the smell of freshly turned earth in the air triggers recollections of construction sites.

Ground crews are preparing for the start of construction for a new I-15 interchange to be labeled Exit 11. When completed, travelers will be able to access the freeway from downtown Washington City.

Contractors working for the Utah Department of Transportation finished demolition of the remaining three buildings acquired during right-of-way negotiations, said Kevin Kitchen, UDOT spokesman for Southern Utah.

While “hardline” construction does not officially begin for another 6-8 weeks, residents will notice a lot of activity in the area from fiber optic companies, water and sewer relocations, power and gas companies, surveyors and demolition contractors.

“The project will be open for bid on Feb. 2,” Kitchen said in an interview with St. George News. “Then it takes about six weeks before the bid is awarded and construction begins.”

UDOT originally purchased six dwellings near the freeway, demolishing the first three about six months ago. The tenants at the properties that were torn down this week had leases that did not expire until December 2022, Kitchen said.

Project plans call for a portion of Main Street to be rerouted from the current location and where the houses were torn down so other crews can start preparing for that phase of the construction.

Lee Cabell, principal at Horrocks Engineering, also told St. George News the original plans for construction to begin towards the end of March are going well. He spoke of an upcoming expo where the public is invited to see project plans and share their concerns with city leaders and developers.

Equipment sits on a freshly cleared lot in Washington where Main Street will be diverted underneath Interstate 15 once the new Exit 11 is completed | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George News

“The Dixie Regional Transportation Expo is going to be held at the Dixie Center on Feb. 7 in St. George,” he said. “We invite everyone to bring their questions and concerns to our booth.”

When construction does begin on the project, Exit 11 will not be the only construction taking place on I-15. As reported previously by St. George News, the project also calls for the interstate to be widened to three lanes in both northbound and southbound directions between Exits 10 and 13.

In addition to landscaping and beautification projects at the new Exit 11 intersection, planning crews worked with city officials to implement freeway overpass and noise barrier designs that will blend in with local scenery.

Green Springs Drive

Meanwhile about a mile west of the Buena Vista Boulevard-Main Street intersection, road construction on Green Springs Drive near the Maverik convenience store currently under construction is nearing completion, said Blake Fonnesbeck, director of public works for Washington City. The construction was being performed by utility contractors working for the new store and did not involve Washington City street department employees.

Utility work for the Maverik store is nearing completion which will improve the flow of traffic on Green Springs Drive in Washington | Photo by Vin Cappiello, St. George News

Michelle Monson, communication director for Maverik, said although there isn’t a “firm date” set for completion of the new store at the current Exit 10 on I-15, the company hopes to be finished around the same time construction on Exit 11 begins.

“While we don’t have a firm date, we anticipate opening close to the end of the first quarter,” she said.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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