Officials seek public comment on which highway projects to fund

In this file photo, construction on Old Highway 91 causes minor traffic delays as utility work is completed before reconstruction of the road begins, Santa Clara, Utah, Dec. 9, 2015 | File photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – With over $2 million in funding recommended for upcoming road projects in Washington City and Ivins by the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization’s transportation executive council, the public has the opportunity to weigh in on those recommendations.

Through Aug. 4, the public can comment on future funds being applied for the extension of Washington Parkway from Interstate 15’s Exit 13 to Green Springs Drive, and the widening of Old Highway 91 in Ivins from 200 East toward the Shivwits Reservation.

Stock image, St. George News

The Dixie MPO’s transportation executive council has chosen to apply $2.1 million toward Washington Parkway and $300,000 toward Old Highway 91 projects. The money is a part of the MPO’s transportation improvement plan funds that will be applied in 2022.

The funds do not cover the cost of the projects, but are contributory and also require local matches from the cities applying for them.

The MPO’s purpose is to help plan for future transportation infrastructure within Washington County. Part of that role includes recommending where to apply transportation improvement plan funds for four years from now. Those funds are handed down from the federal level to the Utah Department of Transportation to the MPO.

Having made those recommendations, MPO officials are now seeking public input on whether or not it is the best use of the money.

We appreciate getting comments from a wide variety of people,” said Myron Lee, director of the Dixie MPO.

Comments can be emailed to Lee at mlee@fivecounty.utah.gov. Put “Tip comments” in the subject line.

Comments will be presented to the transportation council in either its August or September meeting. After the comments are reviewed, the council will either continue with its original decision or come up with a different plan based on the input received, Lee said.

While the funding decided on in 2018 will not be available until 2022, it doesn’t mean municipalities have to sit on their projects until them.

A map detailing the course of the Washington Parkway extension from Exit 13 to Green Springs Drive in Washington City. | Graphic courtesy of the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization, St. George News

Washington Parkway – Washington City

Mike Shaw, Washington City’s public works director, said the city is already setting up an environmental study for the Washington Parkway project and anticipates breaking ground in about a year or so.

The overall price tag on the Washington Parkway project is estimated to be $6 million.

The city has been able to shift previous MPO-granted funds originally meant for Merrill Road toward Washington Parkway, bringing those funds up to $4 million with the addition of the 2022 funding. UDOT is also adding funds, with the current city budget adding $500,000.

Washington City plans to move forward with the project and will be applying for a loan from UDOT as it does. The loan will be paid off with the 2022 funds when they become available, Shaw said.

The roadway will provide another access and exit for the Green Springs area that road planners hope will help take some pressure off the Green Springs/Exit 10 interchange.

Old Highway 91 – Ivins

Continuing the work that Santa Clara began in 2015, the goal of the Ivins’ section of Old Highway 91 from 200 East to the Shivwits Reservation – just over 3 miles – is to widen the roadway and provide general infrastructure improvements.

In this file photo, construction on Old Highway 91 causes minor delays as utility work was completed before reconstruction of the road began, Santa Clara, Utah, Dec. 9, 2015 | File photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

The current roadway, which is 26-28 feet wide, is slated to expanded to around 38 feet with two 12-foot wide lanes and 7-foot wide shoulders on either side. There are also plans for left and right turn lanes and acceleration lanes at all major intersections, along with shoulder and drainage improvements.

The estimated cost of the project is nearly $5 million. The MPO has already put $2 million toward the project for 2021, with the additional $300,000 set for 2022. With a local match in funds for the city, around $2.6 million has become available for future use.

Ivins can choose to wait for complete funding, seek additional funds from other sources or move ahead with what it has and work on the project a piece at a time as funding allows, Lee said.

Calls to Ivins City government concerning the Old Highway 91 project were not returned by time of publication.

100 South I-15 Underpass – St. George – not funded

A third project that was considered but not funded for 2022 were improvements to the 100 South I-15 underpass in St. George. The goal of this project is to widen or modify the existing structure to provide improvement for pedestrian and vehicle safety, as well as better drainage, according to Dixie MPO documents.

The proposed $1.27 million project could be approved for future funds, Lee said, but was not considered to be the best use for the 2022 funds.

Resources

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Mike P July 17, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Lets be honest here. You’ve already picked out the ones to fund so, we’ll just go with that.

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