Indian Hills Drive closed for construction; improved road to be bike friendly

ST. GEORGE – Indian Hills Drive in St. George closed for construction Monday and is not expected to reopen until July. When completed, the improved road will be suitable for active transportation like bicycling and running.

The road will be widened and straightened, with paved shoulders that are 6 feet wide on both sides, St. George Public Works Director Cameron Cutler said. Indian Hills Drive is currently only 20 feet wide but will be 34-35 feet wide when construction is completed, he said.

“In its current state, the shoulders were either nonexistent or they were maybe a foot wide, if that,” said Marc Mortensen, who is both a Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance board member and the assistant to the St. George City manager.

SUBA board members worked with city officials to come up with a design for Indian Hills Drive that accommodates active transportation into the new design, Mortensen said.

It will greatly enhance the safety of that road for people who use it for active transportation purposes,” he said.

Active transportation encourages walking, running, biking and other nonmotorized forms of transportation, a concept that is growing nationally and is especially suited to Southern Utah’s climate, Mortensen said.

Indian Hills Drive is heavily used by both commuter cyclists and recreational cyclists as an alternative to Dixie Drive, which has a lot of traffic, Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance President Craig Shanklin said.

“I think it’s going to be a great commuting route for those people that use their bicycles for transportation,” Shanklin said.

The project is an example of Mortensen’s leadership on the city’s Active Transportation Committee, which is a 13-person committee appointed by St. George Mayor Jon Pike to represent the city, the cycling community, the business community and the health community. The committee was created to represent the growing needs of the city’s walkers, runners and cyclists and advises city planners as they maintain existing infrastructure and create new infrastructure to serve those who use active means of transportation.

“We see active transportation becoming highly popular,” Mortensen said. “More people are bicycling today than have been in decades. Here in Southern Utah, we expect that trend to continue to grow, so we need to provide roadways that accommodate not only vehicles but people using any form of active transportation, as well.”

The committee works with local communities and agencies such as the Utah Department of Transportation and the Dixie Municipal Planning Organization.

Indian Hills Drive will be completely closed to through traffic, except for local traffic, during the construction process, Cutler said. The road is expected to reopen the first week of July. The road construction will be paid for by UDOT and the City of St. George.

“We appreciate the public’s patience (during construction),” Cutler said.

While no one likes to encounter road construction, he said, “it’s always nice to have it done.”

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