ST. GEORGE — While the coronavirus has brought many facets of life to a standstill, some like a trio of public works projects in Washington City continue on.
“We have three fairly huge projects happening in Washington City currently,” Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said, adding that each received funding and began prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those projects are the Warm Springs Park, Washington Parkway extension and Main Street flood control project.
Warm Springs Park
A project long in the works, construction on the park centered around a longtime community swimming hole and spring began in January. More commonly known as “the Boilers,” the pond set along the west side of Interstate 15 just south of Main Street currently serves as a source of irrigation water for residents in downtown Washington City.
The incoming park is projected to have four pickleball courts, a playground, a pavilion and a picnic area. A stretch of beach sand will also be along part of the Warm Springs pond.
The Boilers hold a sentimental and historical value to several Washington City residents. Neilson has previously mentioned memories of swimming in the warm, spring-fed pond in his youth.
The pond is a naturally fed artesian aquifer fed by three warm springs with an output of 30,000 gallons per hour. The temperature of the water also stays at a 70-75 degree range year-round. Neilson once told St. George News he used to swim there during the winter months as a child.
The water from the springs appears to “boil” up through the sand in the bottom of the pond, giving the Boilers its nickname.
For many decades, people have also dumped their unwanted aquatic pets into the Boilers. Anything from goldfish to frogs to turtles. Thanks to the warm temperatures, a number of the pets tend to survive and flourish.
Among the non-native fish found in the Boilers has been a pacu, a species of fish related to the piranha. The pacu was caught by a curious fisherman in June 2015 while visiting the pond.
Between 1999 and December 2014, the city fenced off access to the boilers due to public safety concerns. The fence eventually came down following a resurgence of public interest surrounding the pond.
Work on the new park is anticipated to finish by June. The estimated cost of the project is $1 million.
Washington Parkway extension
This segment of roadway will connect the western end of the Washington Parkway at the I-15 Exit 13 interchange to the northern end of Green Springs Drive and will cross the Mill Creek Wash.
One purpose of the extension is to provide a second access point into the Green Springs area of the city as well as take a little more pressure off the nearby Green Springs/Exit 10 interchange.
The project has been in the works for a while, with $4.2 million in funding gained through the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization. The overall project is estimated to cost $6 million.
“We’re always worried about Green Springs (Drive) and Telegraph (Street) at Exit 10,” Mike Shaw, Washington City’s public works director, previously told St. George News. “This gives another way at the top of Green Springs for people to get out on the interstate. We’re really just trying to help the traffic there.”
The route for the Washington Parkway extension had already been cut through the area and had been graded by the city. People have used it as a dirt road between the two points prior to construction beginning in January. For now, the dirt road is closed until the completion of the project.
The Washington Parkway-to-Green Springs Drive extension will also serve as the eastern connection point to the pending and contested Northern Corridor through the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.
Main Street flood control project
Last year, the City Council approved plans to widen Main Street to four lanes and also invert the middle of the roadway to act as a flood control measure with an overall design similar to Santa Clara Drive. It will also contain various “traffic calming measures” aimed at keeping traffic within the post speed limit. It will also put curb and gutter along both sides of the street, as well as add bike lanes.
The changes to Main Street were prompted by two monsoon storm-caused floods that buried Main Street in water and mud in 2018.
According to the city’s Facebook page, Main Street will close from Buena Vista Boulevard to Telegraph Street beginning Monday through to May 1 for installation of the a sanitary sewer line. Residents are advised to be prepared to find alternate routes to get from one side of I-15 to the other.
Currently, the majority of Main Street is closed with detours routing drivers to neighboring streets.
The project began in January and is anticipated to conclude by June or July.
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