Council to fund St. George-to-Zion bus study, adds right-of-way priorities

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ST. GEORGE – Funding was approved Tuesday for an in-depth study of bus service between St. George and Zion National Park at the annual meeting of the Washington County Council of Governments.

The proposed bus service would benefit both locals and tourists, and be a benefit to the whole county, council members said at the meeting. Two previous studies both suggested a high demand for a transit link between St. George and Zion National Park.

The Council of Governments is comprised of area mayors and county officials, and oversees the Corridor Preservation Funds. The funds are used to purchase rights of way for transportation projects, including roadways, bike paths, and any form of planned public transportation.

As the next step, the COG will contribute $10,000 towards funding a ridership and feasibility study of the route, which will cost an estimated $80,000. The remainder of the cost will be contributed by the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Utah Department of Transportation.

At the meeting, the council also updated their funding priority list, adding three new projects:

  • Ivins – Kwavasa Drive/600 West, which starts at Old Highway 91 and ends at Kayenta Parkway
  • St. George – a connector road from in St. George from 3050 East at 850 North near Costco, to the south side of the Wal-Mart and Home Depot parking lots, which is expected to ease congestion in the Green Springs interchange
  • A new freeway interchange in Washington City at approximately mile marker 11, at either Main Street or 300 East

Funding for the Council of Governments comes from a $10 vehicle registration fee implemented about four or five years ago, said Ron Whitehead, Washington County Public Works Director. In Washington County, that amounts to about $109,000 per month.

“This was set up to help local communities purchase rights of way in advance of construction to help save money,” Whitehead said.

Once a project is prioritized, land in transportation corridors can be purchased as it comes available, as long as the seller is willing. This helps save money, and prevents the need for government condemnation of property needed for roads and other transportation needs.

Also present at the meeting were representatives from the Utah Department of Transportation, Washington County Public Works Department and the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization.

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