SPRINGDALE – Town, county and state officials celebrated the end of roadwork through Springdale Wednesday with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting that marked the completion of state Route 9’s reconstruction.
SR-9, the state road millions of tourists take each year to visit Zion National Park, was determined by Utah Department of Transportation to be in need of reconstruction. The road was getting worn down and was in need of renewal, which resulted in the road surface being torn down to the base and rebuilt.
“We saw a lot of fatigue on this roadway,” said Rick Torgerson, director of UDOT’s Region 4, “so it was time to put a new surface down.”
The project got underway in late 2016 and was completed in two phases. The first phase, which started in Rockville and stopped where it entered Springdale, wrapped up in April 2017. The second phase, which went through Springdale to Zion National Park, began in October 2017 and finished during the latter half of April.
“There have been a lot of challenges,” Torgerson said. “Obviously a very tight environment to construct the work in, heavy tourism traffic, Zion is getting over four million visitors a year, so its been a very challenging environment.”
At times during the construction, traffic through Springdale was reduced to a single, one-way lane.
“We had a minor role in terms of the project itself, but we do attract a bit of traffic,” Zion National Park superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said.
Torgerson said benefits of the project include wider sidewalks for pedestrians, bike lanes on either side of the roadway as well as moving overhead power lines in downtown Springdale underground.
“It’s made a huge difference,” Springdale Mayor Stan Smith said of the overhead power line removal.
Though Springdale started the process of moving power lines underground in the 1970s, complications thwarted that attempt. The SR-9 project was seen as an opportunity to fix the issue.
Last August, Smith asked the Washington County Commission for funding to put the power lines underground, a move that he said would make Springdale more aesthetically pleasing.
The County Commission gave $1.5 million to the project.
“Frankly, I can’t believe how much nicer this viewshed is with those ugly power lines gone,” Commissioner Dean Cox said.
The new layout of the roadway has removed several stretches where on-street parking had been available, but there are areas where paid parking is available.
Read more: Springdale implements new parking meter program
The overall cost of the project is estimated to be $19 million.
“We were hoping (this project) would turn out as fantastic as it has,” Smith said.
Smith gave credit to UDOT and Sunroc, a local company involved in the roadwork.
Torgerson praised the collaboration among those involved in and impacted by the project.
“The cooperation between the business owners, the town, UDOT, the contractor, has been outstanding,” he said.
While the reconstruction on SR-9 has concluded, Torgerson said UDOT plans to begin work sometime this summer on adding passing lanes on SR-9 between Virgin and Rockville.
“For months we’ve been telling people to stay away from Springdale” because of the construction, Smith said. “Now that the road’s here, we say, ‘Come on up, bring your bike, enjoy Springdale and Zion National Park and come see how beautiful it actually is.’”
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