Funding approval paves way for new Southern Parkway interchange in Washington City

In the general area of the future extension of 3650 South that will connect to the Southern Parkway, Washington City, May 14, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A pending interchange off the Southern Parkway that would grant access to the eastern side of Washington City and the under construction Red Cliffs Utah Temple is beginning to move forward with the approval of additional funding by county officials last week.

Earthwork being done at the future site of the Washington County Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the corner of 300o East and 3650 South in St. George, Utah, April 15, 2020 | File photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

During its Dec. 16 meeting, the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Executive Council approved $2.9 million for the construction of the 3560 South-Southern Parkway interchange. This funding will include a $214,200 match from Washington City.

“With the new temple site, we think this is a crucial interchange for traffic,” Mark Shaw, Washington City’s public works director, told the executive council over Zoom.

The $2.9 million in funding will be available for use in 2025. However, Shaw told St. George News there needs to be preexisting plans for projects in place to qualify for the funding. In the case of the 3650 South interchange, Washington City will apply for a bridge loan from the Utah Department of Transportation to fund the project once it gets underway.

The loan would then be paid off when the 2025 transportation funds become available.

The overall interchange project is estimated to run $7,650,000.

A map detailing the general location of the pending 3650 South extension and Southern Parkway in Washington City. | Map courtesy of the Dixie MPO. Labels added by St. George News

With last week’s funding approval and the addition of $1.2 million left over from the recent Main Street flood control project, Shaw said they could get the project underway.

Part of the project also involves extending 3650 South from where it stops west of Noble Drive and connects to the Southern Parkway interchange.

Washington City is currently working with property owners along 3650 South’s projected route to purchase right-of-way access for the extension.

The right-of-way parcels are anticipated to run up to $700,000, which Washington City applied for from Washington County’s Council of Governments. The request was approved by the council, who met immediately after the planning organization meeting.

A part of the Southern Parkway under construction in Washington County, date not specified | File photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

Though the project may be getting underway soon, Shaw said residents shouldn’t expect to see construction begin for at least another two to three years. It will take up to one year just to get the design phase completed, he said.

One aspect of the project that may not take as long as it would otherwise is an environmental impact study, as the possibility of a future interchange at that location was included in environmental work already completed.

The upcoming interchange will serve the eastern part of Washington City, particularly the Washington Fields area, as it provides more convenient access to the St. George Regional Airport and Interstate 15 without having to travel through town. The interchange will also provide easier access for patrons of the Red Cliffs Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Additional residential and commercial development is also anticipated for the area, as well as a potential “wheels-themed” park.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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