Traffic advisory: Holiday weekend traffic update, delays for Virgin River Gorge

Traffic backs up on Interstate 15 in the Virgin River Gorge, July 10, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Steve Cox, Ruin Runner Expeditions, St. George News

VIRGIN RIVER GORGE – Heavy traffic is expected on Interstate 15 over the holiday weekend, and motorists traveling through the Virgin River Gorge may experience traffic delays.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, holiday traffic in the Gorge started backing up in the northbound lane as early as 7:30 a.m. Friday.

At 3:15 p.m., southbound traffic was moving quickly, but northbound lanes had backed up about a mile, Arizona Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Sgt. John Bottoms said.

Be patient, leave yourself plenty of space from the vehicle in front of you,” Bottoms said, “and wear your seat belt. Plan ahead and give yourself extra travel time in case there are delays.”

A major reconstruction project is underway on Virgin River Bridge No. 6 at milepost 16. The Arizona Department of Transportation temporarily reopened both southbound lanes Tuesday. The second lane will remain open through the extended holiday weekend, while northbound travel will remain limited to one lane.

After Labor Day, ADOT will begin work on replacing the southbound bridge structure.

Both directions of travel on I-15 through the Gorge will be diverted onto the newly built northbound bridge beginning at 5 a.m. next Tuesday. The highway will then be narrowed to one lane in each direction through the work zone until the project is completed in 2016.

Even though there will be no active construction during the holiday weekend, delays of up to two hours have been reported through the Virgin River Gorge on previous holiday weekends.

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

Related posts

Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.