Travel advisory: Holiday travel contributing to delays in Virgin River Gorge

Stock image | St. George News

VIRGIN RIVER GORGE — Holiday travel has been contributing to heavy traffic volume in the Virgin River Gorge, the Arizona Department of Public Safety reported Wednesday afternoon. Southbound traffic on Interstate 15 began to back up in the Virgin River Gorge as of 3:10 p.m.

“We have been experiencing heavy traffic volume all day long,” Sgt. John Bottoms, Arizona Department of Public Safety, said in an advisory to media. “We are now starting to see traffic backups developing southbound in the gorge. If you want to avoid any delays in your travel use old Highway 91.

Though potential delays triggered by holiday travel are generally expected, the slowed travel through the gorge is compounded by ongoing construction and rehabilitation work on highway bridges on the stretch of I-15 running through Arizona. Motorists are advised to practice patience and caution while traveling through the gorge if they choose to take their route.

Highway-91-alternate-route
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 traffic backup in the Virgin River Gorge may take Highway 91 as an alternate route. The highway bypasses the Gorge entirely, intersecting with I-15 at Exit 8 in Littlefield, Arizona, to the south and connecting to St. George at the north via Santa Clara and Sunset Boulevard. See map included in this article.

ADOT Bridge rehabilitation project

Bridges in the Virgin River Gorge were originally constructed in the 1970s. 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 began work in January 2014 to modernize and rehabilitate bridges through the Gorge. Work on three of the bridges has been completed, 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 anticipated to be completed in the spring of 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.

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