UPDATED: As of 3:43 p.m., northbound traffic is clearing through the gorge, but southbound is now backed up for a couple of miles. Delays will continue and drivers are advised to plan for more of the same throughout the Easter weekend.
VIRGIN RIVER GORGE, Ariz. — Heavy traffic on Interstate 15 in the Virgin River Gorge has caused significant backups in the northbound lanes Friday. Travelers are advised to be prepared for lengthy delays on Friday and through the Easter weekend, Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Bottoms said, adding that as of 12:17 p.m., the backups had reached three miles in length.
Construction projects in the Gorge are contributing to the delays and backups.
Those seeking to avoid the traffic backup in the Virgin River Gorge may take Highway 91 as an alternate route, which may save travel time and reduce congestion.
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. It was completed in 1973 after a decade of construction.
In January 2014, ADOT began work 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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