Travel advisory: Holiday weekend travel backup in Virgin River Gorge continues

Stock image | St. George News

VIRGIN RIVER GORGE — Southbound traffic through the Virgin River Gorge section of Interstate 15 is backed up, the Arizona Department of Public Safety reported Saturday afternoon.

“Currently it’s about three miles,” Arizona DPS Sgt. John Bottoms said at 4:30 p.m. “Delays are about 1 hour to 90 minutes.”

Bottoms said if motorists wish to avoid lengthy delays they should consider taking 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 that route.

Alternate route

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, Arizona | Image created on Mapquest.com, St. George News | Click on map to enlarge

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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