ST. GEORGE — The Utah Department of Transportation recently awarded $10.8 million to Washington County for the construction of a paved trail between LaVerkin and Springdale.
The Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office announced last Tuesday that the county has received the funding. The new trail will be 12 feet wide and run for 18 miles along state Route 9 from LaVerkin’s Confluence Park to the doorstep of Zion National Park in Springdale.
“This is such a big win for county residents and our visitors,” Kevin Lewis, director of the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, said in a press release.
“Years ago, leaders had the vision to create a paved trail from St. George to Zion National Park. This project is a collaborative effort that keeps that vision alive. It will provide a significant addition to the overall goal of the Greater Zion Trail Network for Washington County.”
Key organizations involved in the project include the Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office, Washington County, and the Zion Regional Collaborative.
In addition to the $10.8 million from the Utah Transportation Commission, local municipalities have provided a 20% match in funding. Washington County also set aside $2.7 million in funds generated by tourist visits for the trail project.
The total project cost is $13.5 million and will take five to six years to complete. Construction is anticipated to begin in two years following the completion of an environmental assessment. The trail will be built in phases once it begins.
An environmental assessment will be needed as the trail will run through public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. Right-of-way access through communities along state Route 9 will also be needed.
Once completed, the trail can be used for walking, cycling and some electric-based mobility like e-bikes. Parking, bathrooms, benches and other amenities will also be located at various locations along the trail.
One of the goals of the trail is to help lessen the traffic congestion in and out of Springdale and Zion National Park. The park itself has become one of the most-visited national parks in the nation in recent years. It will also help move a years-long effort along to connect the whole of Washington County through a countywide trail system.
Other examples of Washington County’s effort to reduce the area’s traffic burden include an incoming bus route between St. George and Springdale that’s also been on the county transportation planners’ goals for several years now.
“Residents and visitors will have improved access to recreational opportunities, efficient and economical transportation options for employment and enjoyment with an overall goal of reducing traffic and parking congestion in the Town of Springdale and the entrance to Zion National Park,” Emily Friedman, Zion Regional Collaborative coordinator, said in the tourism office’s press release.
According to a reference on the Town of Springdale’s website, the Zion Regional Collaborative “is a group of municipalities, public land management agencies, state agencies and other interested parties that provides regional planning and coordination in the Zion Canyon area. The ZRC sponsors a number of studies, plans, projects and other strategies to improve the quality of life for residents of and visitors to Zion Canyon.”
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