City reopens Telegraph Street, road work to continue

WASHINGTON CITY – A segment of Telegraph Street that has been closed to traffic since late September reopened Thursday, reconnecting downtown Washington City to Coral Canyon and state Route 9.

Washington City officials announced over social media that the road was reopened Thursday afternoon.

“Telegraph is now open, a temporary road surface has been constructed that will be in place for several weeks as we continue some work on utility lines,” city officials said over Facebook. “Lane restrictions and speed restrictions are in place so please be courteous and drive safe.”

Telegraph Street between Washington and Highland parkways has been closed since Sept. 27. Telegraph Street at SR-9 was also closed to traffic with the exception of area residents. All other traffic was diverted to Interstate 15.

Telegraph Street between Washington and Highland parkways reopened after a month-long closure caused by a 6-inch drop in the roadway connecting to a slow-moving slide. Repair work on Telegraph Street is expceted to conclude in early 2017, Washington City, Utah, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Telegraph Street between Washington and Highland parkways reopened after a month-long closure caused by a 6-inch drop in the roadway connected to a slow-moving slide. Repair work on Telegraph Street is expected to conclude in early 2017, Washington City, Utah, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The road’s month-long closure was necessary after a section of Telegraph Street began to buckle and slip when the ground beneath it started to slide. This created a road hazard as the western side of the roadway began to break away, leaving long and large cracks down the middle of the road where the separation had taken place. The road eventually dropped about 6 inches before officials closed it for repairs.

The cause of the landslide is believed to have been caused by heavy equipment clearing out brush, rock and debris from the toe of the hill which was meant to ultimately address a larger problem – a slow-moving slide that has been occurring for at least two years or more, yet didn’t pick up speed until December 2015.

Some Washington City residents have said the hillside has been shifting long before that. Some residents point to the uneven road being a factor in the death of a 16-year-old girl who went off the road in October 2013 and rolled her car down the embankment. Concrete barricades were set up along the road’s western edge following the fatal incident.

“It was the end of December when we started to notice some cracks in the hillside,” Washington City Public Works Director Mike Shaw previously told St. George News.

Work on creating an earthen buttress designed to counteract a slow-moving slide on hillside between Washington and Highland parkways in Washington City began Tuesday. However, as heavy machinery began to clear the ground at the foot of the hillside, the slide dropped 6 inches, necessitating a closure of a section of Telegraph Street until the hill is considered stabilized by city officials, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 27, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
File photo: Work on creating an earthen buttress designed to counteract a slow-moving slide on the hillside between Washington and Highland parkways in Washington City began Tuesday. However, as heavy machinery began to clear the ground at the foot of the hillside, the slide dropped 6 inches which required closing of a section of Telegraph Street until the hill is considered stabilized by city officials, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 27, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said it wasn’t until after a water line in the area broke that the hillside started to creep at a faster rate.

What had been a noticeable yet seemingly smooth pavement-patch on the roadway accompanied by a slight drop on the surface in February turned into a spiderweb of cracks and traffic cones by mid-September.

The cause of the gradual, creeping drop in the hillside was originally unknown, but following studies and measurements completed by geotechnical technicians from three different agencies, the cause was determined to be a slow-moving landslide. Once the cause was determined, the city quickly settled on a solution.

That solution was to reinforce the hillside with an earthen buttress. The buttress has since been built and is visible from Washington Parkway.

Traffic on Telegraph Street between Washington and Highland parkways has been reduced to single lanes in both directions with a lowered speed limit of 25 mph.

The surface of the road is largely uniform now, with a noticeable bump or two. A large segment is currently covered in loose gravel. It’s a far cry from what the road looked like the day it was closed.

Overall work on the road – which will include a new surface and underground infrastructure – is expected to conclude sometime in January at a cost of $1.5 million.

An earthen buttress built on the hillside just below Telegraph Street between Washington and Highland parkways is meant to bring an end to a slow-moving slide that had plagued the area for over two years. It led to the closure of that park of Telegraph street in late Septemebt, and eventually reopened a month later. Repair work on Telegraph Street is expceted to conclude in early 2017, Washington City, Utah, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
An earthen buttress built on the hillside just below Telegraph Street between Washington and Highland parkways is meant to bring an end to a slow-moving slide that had plagued the area for over two years. It led to the closure of that part of Telegraph Street in late September, which has since reoponed. Repair work on Telegraph Street is expected to conclude in early 2017, Washington City, Utah, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

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

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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1 Comment

  • wilbur October 29, 2016 at 9:38 am

    We’ll see how well these “buttress” repairs fare when heavy rains return to Dixie in the future and waterlog the hillside.

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