Hurricane begins improvements, 600 North widening this fall

HURRICANE – While some residents directly affected by the improvements on Hurricane’s 600 North from 200 West to state Route 9 oppose the project, saying it is being designed as a bypass route, Hurricane City Engineer Arthur LeBaron is quick to point out that it is not.

“Anyone who thinks the new road project is a bypass must look at the plan’s particulars,” LeBaron said, explaining that it will be a two-lane road with a right-of-way of 66 feet and a 25-mph speed limit. The speed limit alone is an indication it was not meant as a bypass, he said.

If I were wanting to drive through the area quickly, he said, “why would I go on a 25-mph road with stop signs and school zones?” The project was simply designed as “a great east-west connector for local traffic,” he said.

Dirt from breaking ground on the Shamo's new home stands next to his current home on 600 North , January 29, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News
Dirt from breaking ground on the Shamo’s new home stands next to his current home on 600 North , January 29, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

“The fact is, it is the most residential section of 600 North – the other sections don’t have driveways to deal with,” LeBaron said. “State Street has five lanes, including a turn lane, has a higher speed limit and is home to most of the city’s businesses.”

One of the main goals of the project is to increase safety along the route, LeBaron said. Right now the curbs are tight and there is no sidewalk for children, and there are a lot of families along the route with young children. The project also has aesthetics in mind, though, with planter strips in the middle of some portions of the road.

In order to accommodate the road, two homes will have to be demolished. One of them belongs to Chris Shamo and his family, who are simply building a house farther from the road just southwest of their current home, which is across the street from the city cemetery. LeBaron said the Shamos have been great to work with, taking the project in stride.

The project was difficult to swallow at first, Shamo, who works for the city’s power department, said, because the city wanted to just give him fair market value, but once the state got involved it became easier. He then received replacement value, which is exactly what he needed to purchase a piece of property adjacent to his current home and break ground on his new home. He said the city lived up to its end of the deal and will even give back part of the land the road doesn’t end up using.

One of Shamo’s initial concerns was the road’s speed limit. However, the current plan calls for a more curved road that will bring the speed down, which made him happy.

Pointing to his current home, which originally belonged to his grandparents, Shamo said the new road’s route will run right through where his master bedroom sits now. He will miss the house because it has a lot of history and memories associated with it, he said. However, he supports the new road and said it will make a great route for the biking and running events the city hosts.

While the impact for others is not as drastic as the Shamos, front yards have been affected and the city is having to redo some driveways at no cost to homeowners.

LeBaron said he empathizes with the residents affected.

“We’re taking control of how people access their property with curb and gutter where there was none,” he said.

Curb and gutter will really help drainage, he said, leading to runoff water to be properly routed to the storm drain system rather than through residents’ yards.

“We’re pretty happy we’re able to put the curb and gutter in,” he said. “There are not many complaining about it.”

Looking west on 600 N just west of 120 East
The City of Hurricane hopes to improve safety and aesthetics along 600 North between 200 West and State Street, January 29, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

One who is complaining about it is Linda Blackman, who owns a home on the corner of 600 North and 200 West. She said she is unhappy with the elevations and drainage caused by the project and feels she is not getting adequate compensation from the city for the loss of value the widening will cause.

Besides supposedly being a bypass and property impacts, the other concerns residents have about the project are that it will increase traffic tremendously, it will create a lack of parking, especially near intersections, and it might lead to the removal of some trees, LeBaron said.

The proposed timetable for the project will be from the fall of this year to Memorial Day 2015, LeBaron said, explaining that the project is more budget driven than schedule driven.

“If you want things fast, it costs more,” he said.

The improvements are projected to cost approximately $4 million, with $1 million coming from federal aid money disbursed through the Utah Department of Transportation. The balance will come from city funds.

The delivery method for the project is Construction Manager-General Contractor, which means hiring a general contractor up front to economize the design, first as a consultant, then to legitimize the design and to help complete a risk-management analysis. Interstate Rock has been consulting on the project.

LeBaron said Interstate Rock has been a good partner to the city and that as long as the company’s cost model is in line with the cost estimate, Interstate will get the project.

One of the reasons the delivery method is economical is it minimizes change orders to the project, which can lead to ballooning costs.

The city used the same delivery method for the SR-9 project, which was delivered ahead of schedule and on budget. One thing LeBaron said Interstate Rock would do well is communicate with the public – providing information on impacts the construction will have for residents – such as road closures – well before it happens through channels such as an email list and a hotline.

LeBaron said the city has done its best to communicate with the public about the project since its inception. If people are unhappy, he said, the city wants to address their complaints.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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