ST. GEORGE – Utah Department of Transportation held an open house for the public Thursday night at the Ramada Inn in St. George. Its purpose was to present a project that will consist of upgrading the Interstate 15 Interchange at Utah Exit 8 to a Diverging Diamond Interchange and include a pedestrian facility. About 11 people from the community showed up for the presentation and opportunity to talk with representatives of the project.
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The affected areas will include the St. George Boulevard, and 1000 East intersection, eastbound to the St George Boulevard and River Road/Red Cliffs Drive intersection.
This is one of many projects UDOT has in store for the area with plans to upgrade I-15 to three lanes northbound and southbound in the future.
Construction on this project will begin Saturday, Sandi Lampshire, Communications Manager at Horrocks Engineers, said, with restriping of lanes, reduction of shoulders and placing barrels. Construction is anticipated to wrap up around the end of November 2013.
UDOT’s project manager, Kim Manwill, said that UDOT along with the City of St. George, Wadsworth Brothers Construction, Wilson & Company along with the project manager, Horrocks Engineers, have two solid goals they have established: to go into this project with a good approach and have the ability to keep traffic moving.
The goal is to keep traffic flow as close as it is today as we can, Wadsworth Project Manager Layne Fullmer said.
Traditionally, Lampshire said, projects are designed by engineers and then built; in the end result, this has taken more time to complete a project. However, with this project, the engineers and contractors are working together during the entire process enabling everyone to be more innovative and provide better ideas.
A majority of construction will be conducted at night, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. I-15 will include closures to lanes of travel about eight times throughout the period of construction. These closures will enable construction crews to safely and effectively set bridge girders and conduct pile driving during the nighttime hours. Those who live relatively close to the interchange may experience construction noise as the foundations for the structures are set in place.
There will be a maximum of two elements on the interchange closed off at a time, said Kevin Kitchen, UDOT public information officer for central and Southern Utah. These elements will include travel lanes, highway on and off ramps, etc. The closures shouldn’t have a major affect on traffic flow, however, Kitchen said, as it is a priority of the project to maintain traffic flow through the interchange with the least amount of impact construction takes place.
The project is expected to only close down the St. George Boulevard I-15 Interchange bridge one time. This will enable construction crews to effectively install girders and signal poles.
Travel times are expected to remain the same during the daytime hours, even within the peak travel hours of noon to 5 p.m.
There does not appear to be a significant concern with business owners being affected as they were with 2006 project that put medians on St. George Boulevard.
Raj Patel, Ramada Inn general manager, said he welcomes the changes as he has seen the benefit of growth to the area over the last 20 years.
Cindy Campbell, a resident of the Foremaster Ridge that overlooks the St. George Boulevard and River Road/Red Cliffs Drive intersection, said she had concerns about travelers changing lanes, merging/turning into the other lane of travel, due to the confusion in the intersection due to ineffective striping.
There are currently two left-turn lanes from the St. George eastbound lanes of travel onto the northbound Red Cliffs Drive lanes of travel. Campbell said that reflective raised pavement markers should be placed as lane markers rather than the paint striping.
Paint striping is the current plan for the intersection, representatives of Horrocks Engineers said.
On an interesting note, Lampshire said that with there being three left-turn lanes, there will be three left-turn arrows. The Utah Legislature implemented a new law during its 2013 General Session that allows drivers to turn left on a red arrow under certain conditions. This intersection, then, will be an intersection where turning left on a red arrow is legal due to the lanes of travel all traveling in the same direction.
In the end, traffic and pedestrian travel will run much more smoothly, Kitchen said.
The project is from a European design, Kitchen said. The purpose of this design, specifically where the lanes narrow and cross over the bridge, is to channel traffic into the other lane. This is the Diverging Diamond Interchange. Kitchen also said the current I-15 bridge will expand on the south side. Four to six feet will initially be taken off and 20 feet will be added on.
The project will reduce the traffic signals from six down to two. There will be less time spent at a stop light due to the reduction in traffic lights and ease of travel. The two traffic lights will be synchronized to turn green or turn red at the same time in the corresponding directions. There will be a pedestrian crossing with protective barriers across the bridge directly in the middle, between the eastbound and westbound lanes of travel. Pedestrians will need to cross the lanes of travel at the designated crosswalk signals.
Manwill said that there will be a third eastbound lane added to the current two lanes between the bridge and 1000 East. This additional lane is necessary in part due to the additional traffic since the Red Hills Project has completed.
To see how a Diverging Diamond Interchange works, information, provide comments or follow the construction schedule, please visit http://www.udot.utah.gov/stgeorgemp8.
Anyone with questions or concerns about the project is encouraged to contact a project representative at: stgeorgeMP8@utah.gov or 435-216-9313.
- UDOT open house on upcoming Exit 8 Interchange construction
- Future construction at Exit 8 interchange could help reduce traffic congestion
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