ST. GEORGE – St. George area residents are encouraged to attend the Bluff Street Study public hearing hosted by UDOT on Wednesday and learn more about the general proposal and potential impact the project may have on Bluff Street traffic and businesses.
UDOT concluded an Environment Assessment for proposed improvements to Bluff Street from St. George Boulevard to Red Hills Parkway. These proposals and their alternatives are now open for public view and comment until March 2.
Setting a footprint
“We’re setting a footprint,” UDOT spokesman Kevin Kitchen said.
Kitchen said that the EA helps give a general of outline the impact the proposed improvements to Bluff Street may have on the surrounding area. Items such as the effects on local property, homes, and businesses are taken into account, as well as the cost, demand, and impact on resources. The overall goal of the improvements is to prepare for increased traffic flow over the next 30 years.
Some of the impacts refer to the proposed widening of Bluff Street to seven lanes between 500 North and Red Hills Parkway, and five lanes south of 100 South. The general proposal also eliminates the ability to make a left turn at the intersection of Bluff Street and St. George Boulevard. Instead, drivers will be sent down a block past the intersection and slingshot around in median u-turns at Tabernacle and 200 North.
“Make it simpler, not complicated,” said Gordon Haines, a retired civil engineer. He also said the current proposal relied on old data and needed revision.
“I think we need a revised traffic assessment,” he said. New data would involve incorporating improvements made to Red Hills Parkway and other road projects and determine what impact they may have had on Bluff Street traffic.
Another point of concern Haines mentioned was that of business owner along Bluff Street. With the proposed widening of the lanes, they are wondering about the negative affects it may have to parking lot access and customer traffic flow. Which side of the road the business is on will also determine how close the curb moves to the front door.
“Most of the property taken [for the additional lanes] will be on the east side of Bluff,” Haines said.
While Kitchen said the EA did not provide exact details of how Bluff Street-side businesses and properties would be affected, it did provide a general idea.
“There are different types of impacts on business,” Kitchen said. “The goal is to minimize those impacts.”
Among the potential properties to be affected by the Bluff Street project are the parking lots of Hurst Ace Hardware and Smith’s. Images provided by UDOT show proposed work between Tabernacle Street and St. George Boulevard claiming portions of those parking lots.
However, Kitchen also said the primary proposals to be shown at Wednesday’s hearing were not yet set in stone.
“The impact study is not the final document,” he said. The final product will not be produced until after the comment period has concluded and the proposal is sent to the Federal Highway Administration for a review and approval.
Public hearing and comment
The hearing will give the public a firsthand glance of the proposed changes that UDOT seeks to make to Bluff Street. They can also make their opinions heard.
“We hold [these hearings] so we can hear about impacts firsthand,” Kitchen said.
Larry Bulloch, the public works director for St. George, said people should come and see what UDOT had on the table.
“People should come and be informed,” Bulloch said. “They need to become familiar with the details of the proposal.”
Kitchen said everyone concerned was welcome to attend the public hearing and form their own opinions about the project, rather than rely on secondhand information.
The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the St. George City Council Chambers, 175 East 200 North, St. George, at 4 p.m to 6 p.m.
Individuals unable to attend the hearing can still add comments through the Bluff Street Study website. The comment period ends March 2.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.