Heavy delays expected on I-15 through Virgin River Gorge; concrete pour

This June 2015 photo shows the concrete pour in progress on the deck of newly rehabilitated northbound Interstate15 Bridge No. 6. Virgin River Gorge in Mohave County, Arizona, June 1, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Arizona Department of Transportation is urging motorists traveling both directions through the Virgin River Gorge on Interstate 15 Tuesday through Thursday to allow extra travel time due to a reduced 25 mph speed limit that will be in place to accommodate a concrete pour necessary to the rehabilitation of Bridge No. 6.

This recent photo of the southbound Interstate 15 Bridge No. 6 shows the epoxy coated rebar that will be filled with concrete during a deck pour Feb. 9-11, 2016. Virgin River Gorge in Mohave County, Arizona, January 2016 | Photo courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News
This recent photo of southbound Interstate 15 Bridge No. 6 shows the epoxy coated rebar that will be filled with concrete during a deck pour Feb. 9-11, 2016. Virgin River Gorge in Mohave County, Arizona, January 2016 | Photo courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News

Beginning Tuesday at 6 a.m. through midnight Thursday, the reduced speed limit will be in place to allow crews to pour the new concrete bridge deck along southbound Virgin River Bridge No. 6. According to a news release from ADOT, the 66-hour period and reduced vibration from lower-speed traffic will allow the fresh concrete to properly cure.

Traffic delays up to an hour are anticipated.

During this period, commercial truck traffic will be restricted to loads up to 40 tons, ADOT’s news release said. While that is the legal limit for trucks across the rest of Arizona, commercial trucks using I-15 are normally allowed up to 64.5 tons.

The southbound bridge, located midway between Mesquite, Nevada, and St. George, Utah, at Arizona milepost 16, remains closed for the reconstruction project, which is scheduled to be completed by this summer. Work on the adjacent northbound bridge was completed in the summer of 2015.

The concrete deck pour is a significant milestone on the $27 million reconstruction project that began in 2014 and includes the replacement of the bridge’s superstructure, including girders, deck and railings, as well as widening the roadway through the narrow passage of the gorge.

The highway will remain narrowed to one lane in each direction through the work zone until the Bridge No. 6 project is completed this summer.

Highway 91 between St. George, Utah, and Littlefield, Arizona | Image from Mapquest.com, St. George News
Highway 91 between St. George, Utah, and Littlefield, Arizona | Image derives from Mapquest.com, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge

Alternate route

With limited alternate routes due to the remote location of the I-15 Virgin River Gorge corridor, ADOT urges drivers to plan ahead, allow extra travel time, slow down and drive carefully through the work zone and be alert for additional construction equipment, crews and law enforcement personnel.

Those seeking to avoid the traffic backup in the Virgin River Gorge may take Highway 91 as an alternate route.

Highway 91 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 inset.

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 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 currently anticipated to be completed in the summer of 2016, according to ADOT news releases. Bridge No. 6 involves a $27 million rehabilitation replacing the bridge’s superstructure — girders, deck and railings — as well as widening the roadway through the narrow passage of the gorge.

Map shows Bridges on Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona slated for rehabilitation during 2014-16 | Map courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News
Map shows Bridges on Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona slated for rehabilitation during 2014-16 | Map courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

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1 Comment

  • .... February 7, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    I’m sure digger will be there in his cowboy outfit and waving the flag and protesting

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