ST. GEORGE – Road planners are asking for the public’s input on the layout of a proposed roadway that would connect state Route 9 and the Southern Parkway. An environmental assessment concerning the need and impacts of the “Purgatory Road” was released earlier this month that the public can view and offer comments to online.
The proposed roadway will wind through an area known as Purgatory Flat and include a new crossing over the Virgin River that will provide a connection between the Washington Fields area and SR-9.
At the Washington City end, the Purgatory Road would connect to the Southern Parkway via the interchange at Washington Dam Road. The connection to SR-9 would be at 5300 West, the road that leads into the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Purgatory Correctional Facility, as well as the county’s regional park/county fairgrounds.
“As we grow and develop out in that area, there will be more and more need for this road,” said Ron Whitehead, Washington County’s public works director. “This will facilitate travel to the Southern Parkway and up to those industrial parks without (traffic) going through Hurricane or Washington City or residential areas.”
The environment assessment, or EA, points out the purpose and need for the proposed roadway while also outlining potential impacts to the area on numerous levels. The area the road will run through includes critical habitat for certain plants and animals, as well as endangered species located in the Virgin River.
“There are a few species we’re looking at out there,” said Arthur LeBaron, Hurricane’s city engineer.
The EA, which can be viewed here, is a way that local and state agencies involved in the potential project can provide for future planing in the area, as well as provide a groundwork for when they work with federal agencies, LaBaron said.
The area the road would cut through includes municipal and county-owned property, as well as pieces of private and public lands.
According to the EA, the Purgatory Road would enhance the safety of the area, particularly where major events held at the county regional park are concerned. The Washington County Fair alone is estimated to draw between 40,000 and 50,000 people each year, all of whom access the fair through the 5300 West, SR-9 intersection.
“On the Saturday of the fair, 40,000 vehicles are in attendance with approximately 75 percent of those vehicles leaving at the same time over a 45 minute period following the closing fireworks,” the EA states. “These vehicles must all use the 5300 West intersection, blocking the intersection, and affecting emergency response times.”
According to the future land use maps of Hurricane and Washington City, much of the undeveloped land within the EA’s study area is planned for residential, commercial and industrial development.
“There’s a lot of landlocked parcels,” LeBaron said. “We basically can’t develop anymore until we have that second access.”
The area would benefit economically from the new development the road would allow, as well as help cut travel times between Hurricane and Washington City.
There is currently no solid time table for when the construction could begin on the project, LeBaron said. However, it is planned as a part of the first phase – 2015-2024 – of the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization’s long-term regional transportation plan that reaches to 2040.
The preliminary estimated cost of the roadway places it at around $12 million, though LaBaron said that may be closer to $25 million at full build out which includes the bridge needed for the Virgin River. So far only $500,000 has been spent for the EA study for the Purgatory Road project.
Those who wish to learn more about the project and EA study can visit PurgatoryRd.com and offer public input through that medium. Hard copies of the 239-page EA study are available for review at the Hurricane and Washington City offices and the Washington County Administration Building in St. George.
The public input period on the EA study ends Dec. 2.
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