ST. GEORGE – Road planners have proposed studies to determine whether new interchanges on Interstate 15 in Hurricane and St. George would be feasible or folly.
During a meeting of the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization’s technical advisory committee Wednesday, Utah Department of Transportation officials suggested two studies that would look into the possibility of interchanges at miles 7 and 18 of I-15.
“This is just a conceptual look to help us make a decision on a long-range plan at a future date,” UDOT representative Kirk Thornock said.
The intent of the studies is to provide base information for future municipal, county and state road planners in case they decide to go ahead with the idea of the interchanges, which could be 20 to 40 years from now.
Road planning agencies like UDOT and the Dixie MPO plan out future road projects years and decades in advance and routinely update their long-range plans. The proposed interchanges are not on the long-range plans and the proposed studies would simply provide a framework for future road planners to consider.
“This would be providing more in-depth numbers and a better understanding of what an interchange may look like and how it will affect the roads around it,” Thornock said.
In general, the mile 7 interchange in St. George would potentially be in the area of 700 South, while an interchange at mile 18 would be in Hurricane’s industrial park near DATS Trucking.
Hurricane approached UDOT about a possible interchange in its industrial park, Thornock said, noting the future growth anticipated for the area.
The St. George location has been looked at before, though the proposed feasibility study would add more details for future planners to consult, he added.
“Since neither of these interchanges are on our long-range plan, basically we would just be gathering information that would eventually play into a (future) plan if it showed significant impact or improvement on traffic,” Dixie MPO Director Myron Lee said. “It would be good to have data so we can do further analysis in our long-range plans.”
In order to get the studies off the ground, UDOT requested $30,000 from the Dixie MPO for funding, with matching funds being supplied through the state.
The advisory council voted to recommend funding for the studies. The group that will ultimately approve funding is the MPO’s executive committee which meets late this month.
Both Lee and Thornock reiterated that the studies were focused on examining the concept of an interchange in the proposed Hurricane and St. George locations. The studies will help spell out whether the concepts should be considered.
Updates on current and future road projects were also given during Wednesday’s meeting.
UDOT is working on adding and extending passing lanes on state Route 9 between Virgin and Rockville. It is also providing a new coating on SR-9 through part of Hurricane to help prevent water from getting into the road.
Near-future UDOT projects include completion of the final leg of state Route 7, also known as the Southern Parkway, around Sand Hollow reservoir to SR-9, and work on the Exit 16 interchange.
Approximately $3.5 million will go toward work on state Route 59, Thornock said. That would include expanding the shoulder with gravel along parts of the road and adding passing lanes.
SR-59 overall has been slated for future work, according to UDOT’s long-range transportation plans.
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