ADOT opens extra lane to handle Labor Day traffic on I-15

Traffic moving through the Virgin River Gorge, Mohave County, Arizona, date unknown | Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News

VIRGIN RIVER GORGE – With heavy traffic expected to hit Interstate 15 during the Labor Day weekend, motorists passing through the Virgin River Gorge are once again being told to expect traffic delays.

While northbound travel through the gorge leading up to and past Arizona milepost 16 will remain reduced to a single lane, the Arizona Department of Transportation has temporarily reopened both southbound lanes as of Tuesday. The second lane will remain open through the extended holiday weekend.

This area has been restricted due to a major reconstruction project on Virgin River Bridge No. 6 located at milepost 16.

Following the extended weekend, ADOT will begin work on replacing the southbound bridge structure and both directions of traffic will be diverted onto the newly built northbound bridge beginning at 5 a.m. next Tuesday.

While no active construction will be taking place during the holiday weekend, delays of up to two hours have been reported on previous holiday travel weekends through the Virgin River Gorge.

The highway will then be narrowed to one lane in each direction through the work zone until the project is completed in 2016.

Highway 91 from St. George and Littlefield, Ariz. | Image created on Mapquest.com, St. George News | Click on map to enlarge
Highway 91 from St. George and Littlefield, Ariz. | Image created on Mapquest.com, St. George News | Click on map to enlarge

Alternate route

Those seeking to avoid the construction work in the Virgin River Gorge may take Highway 91 as an alternate route. The highway bypasses the Gorge entirely, intersecting with I-15 at Littlefield, Arizona, to the south and connecting to St. George, Utah, at the north via Santa Clara and Sunset Boulevard. See map inset.

ADOT Bridge rehabilitation project

Bridges in the Virgin River Gorge were originally constructed in the 1970s and are in need of upgrades and repairs. When this section of highway was built, it was the most expensive rural interstate highway built, per mile, and was completed in 1973 after a decade of construction.

ADOT has completed work on three of the bridges thus far, specifically surfaces for Virgin River Bridge No. 2 at milepost 13, Bridge No. 3 at milepost 15 and Bridge No. 7 at milepost 22.

Work began on Bridge No. 6 in the spring of 2014 and is currently anticipated to be completed in 2016. Bridge No. 6 involves a $27 million rehabilitation project replacing the bridge’s superstructure – girders, deck and railings – as well as widening the roadway through the narrow passage of the gorge.

To stay up to date with the latest highway conditions around the state, visit the ADOT Traveler Information Center website, or call 511; outside of Arizona dial 1-888-411-ROAD (7623).

Arizona bridges 2, 3 and 6, Interstate 15, Virgin River Gorge, Arizona | Image courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News
Arizona bridges 2, 3 and 6, Interstate 15, Virgin River Gorge, Arizona | Image courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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