ST. GEORGE — A stretch of state Route 18 between Veyo and Central is being eyed for the construction of a multiuse trail in connection with road work already being planned by the Utah Department of Transportation. The pending project is seen as a safety improvement for individuals who bike and run on the side of the road where officials say not much of a shoulder exists and poses a safety risk.
Work between Veyo and Central will focus on road preservation and the widening of the roadway, Kayde Roberts, a UDOT project manager, told St. George News on Wednesday.
That work is expected to begin next summer. For now, UDOT is still working out some of the details.
UDOT has reached out to the communities along parts of SR-18 that will be impacted and has also taken public input from them. The road agency also plans to return to the area with an open house sharing details with locals on what they can expect to see once work begins.
Before then, however, UDOT officials will be meeting with the Utah Transportation Commission to apply for funding for additional improvements to the roadway beyond widening it, Roberts said.
This is where the Washington County Commission came in. The commission voted in a meeting on Tuesday to approve issuing a letter of support for UDOT asking the transportation commission for the additional funding.
Assistant Washington County Attorney Devin Snow said proposed UDOT improvements include a double-left turn in the Brookside area, as well as more of a shoulder on the west side of the road. As for the county’s part, they would be allowed to build the multiuse trail within UDOT’s right of way. The county would also be paying for the design and construction of the trail, he said.
Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson reiterated that the reason for the county pursuing the project was for the safety of both pedestrians and motorists passing through the area.
“A lot of people like to prepare for the (St. George) marathon and run and bike along that area, but it’s not safe,” he said. “It has no shoulder on it.”
SR-18 has long been a part of the annual St. George Marathon, as well as the Ironman triathlon, which has lent to it being used by athletes training for these events.
The roadway has also been used for a wide array of events that led to parts of it being routinely shut down. Because of this, county officials are actively seeking to limit how often the roadway is closed with the exceptions of the St. George Marathon and Ironman competitions.
The new stretch of trail will not be an isolated segment, Commissioner Adam Snow said, and ties into a trial that runs from St. George to the northern entrance of Snow Canyon Parkway on SR-18. From there, the trails will be connected by a shoulder that is safe for pedestrian use, he added.
“It’ll be the continuation of a safer travel corridor,” Commissioner Snow said.
An estimate on the cost of the construction of the multiuse trail has yet to be determined.
Safety improvements have been made to SR-18 in the past aimed at benefiting cyclists and runners use of the road. One of those times was in 2012 when UDOT put $1.6 million toward improvements sought by local cycling enthusiasts.
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