Heavy traffic hits as holiday weekend, Parade of Homes, sporting tournaments converge in St. George

ST. GEORGE — Heavy traffic has hit St. George with the onset of the Presidents’ Day weekend, the start of the St. George Area Parade of Homes and multiple youth sports tournaments that began Friday.

The southbound off-ramp into St. George at the St. George Boulevard/Exit 8 interchange. Traffic on the off-ramp is backed up to I-15 as heavy traffic hit St. George at the start of the Presidents Day holiday weekend, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Areas that have already experienced heavy traffic and congestion are the southbound highway ramps off Interstate 15 and the surrounding roadways.

Traffic around the St. George Boulevard/Exit 8 interchange, for example, was particularly busy Friday afternoon with traffic coming off the highway backed onto the interstate.

Traffic on St. George Boulevard through 1000 East and River Road has also been high as a result. The 1000 East intersection is one of St. George’s main entry and exit points and is considered one of the worst intersections for crashes in the city and Utah overall.

Another area in St. George that will be subject to increased congestion and stop-and-go traffic is River Road between Riverside Drive and 1450 South where roadwork is currently underway. Work in that area is being done to add additional lanes to the roadway.

For now, motorists are asked to be patient and observant, as well as maintain a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle ahead of them as they drive through the construction zone.

Northbound I-15 through Washington City also saw congestion around 5 p.m. Friday in the area of mile marker 12-13 due to a vehicle crash that reduced traffic to a single lane.

One of the soccer games being played at the Fields in Little Valley as a part of the Ice Breaker Soccer Tournament, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Due to the influx of youth athletes, motorists will also want to be mindful of their surroundings when driving by schools and parks where sports fields are present and are most likely being used. Between Friday and Monday, at least three separate youth sports tournaments are taking place in St. George and neighboring cities.

These tournaments include the Rage Futbol Club Showcase, the Ice Breaker Soccer Tournament, and a tournament sponsored by the Rocky Mountain School of Baseball.

The flood of traffic is expected to dry up after Monday, which also marks the conclusion of the weekend’s sporting events. However, the St. George Area Parade of Homes is set to run through Feb. 21. Another round of youth sporting tournaments are also scheduled for that weekend.

Avoiding collisions

The following segment was originally published on May 20, 2019 as a part of a story covering the most crash-prone intersections in St. George in which St. George Police officer Andy Mickelson shared reasons why drivers crash and how to best avoid being the cause of a collision.

Traffic at the intersection of River Road and 1450 South, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“One of the biggest problems is failing to yield the right of way,” Mickelson said referring to left turns.

People making turns in an intersection or attempting to drive on through, for whatever reason, don’t pay attention and don’t see the oncoming traffic, or mistakenly think they have enough time and space to shoot a gap in traffic, he said. Being distracted and impatient while at the intersection doesn’t help.

“Make sure you pay attention to what the lights are telling you,” Mickelson said, placing particular emphasis on solid and flashing yellow lights.

When a traffic light turns yellow, some drivers think they need to speed up to get through the intersection. This can often lead to drivers colliding with oncoming traffic when making a left turn.

“Even if the light’s yellow, you still need to make sure the cars that are approaching are going to stop when the lights turn red. Sometimes they run the red light,” Mickelson said.

Southbound I-15 as seen from the St. George Boulevard/Exit 8 overpass. Coming off the highway in the upper left is traffic coming off the highway to enter St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Drivers also need to make sure they have enough space and time between vehicles when making a left turn so they don’t pull out in front of someone, he said.

The bane of St. George drivers also appears to be the flashing yellow light. It is seen as either unneeded or confusing, according to some of the reader comments on the various crashes St. George News has covered over the years.

When the yellow light is flashing, it means you need to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic, especially on a left turn, Mickelson said. An example of the flashing light can be found at the intersection of Red Hills Parkway and Skyline Drive.

“Sometimes people see (the flashing yellow light) and think it’s a solid and they go and turn,” Mickelson said. “Don’t try to gamble with either your safety and other people’s safety by trying to beat those cars on a left turn.”

Another major cause of wrecks at intersections are vehicles following too closely.

Mickelson recommends keeping a two-second distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. On streets with higher speed limits like Dixie Drive and Bluff Street, he advises that you expand that distance.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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