Traffic Advisory: NASCAR fans head home, clog traffic in Virgin River Gorge

Traffic backed up on Interstate 15 in the Virgin River Gorge, Arizona, March 12, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

UPDATED 1:15 p.m. Monday – A minor collision is blocking the left northbound lane of Interstate 15 about a mile past the entrance to the Virgin River Gorge. Troopers are arriving on the scene, and traffic backups are expected to worsen.

VIRGIN RIVER GORGE, Ariz. – Traffic is backing up on northbound Interstate 15 near the entrance to the Virgin River Gorge Monday as race fans head home from Las Vegas.

“Many of the NASCAR fans have elected to travel today and have caused a traffic backup,” Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Bottoms said.

The backup is approximately 2.5 miles as of 11:40 a.m., and travelers can expect to add an additional 30 to 60 minutes to their travel time through the area, Bottoms said.

Motorists are advised to plan on delays, or to take Old Highway 91 if they wish to avoid delays.

Highway 91 between St. George, Utah, and Littlefield, Arizona | Image from
Highway 91 between St. George, Utah, and Littlefield, Arizona | Image from

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 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 replacing the bridge’s superstructure — girders, deck and railings — as well as widening the roadway through the narrow passage of the Virgin River Gorge.

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