Dixie Transportation Expo highlights projects on I-15 and in St. George and surrounding municipalities

ST. GEORGE — The Dixie Regional Transportation Expo returned to the Dixie Convention Center in St. George this week following a pandemic-induced move to a virtual space last year. This year’s expo highlighted future projects along the Interstate 15 corridor through Washington County, as well as local projects across spread across St. George, Washington City and other municipalities.

At the 2022 Dixie Regional Transportation Expo, St. George, Utah, Feb. 8, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler. St. George News

A general theme behind all of the ongoing and future roadwork is the need to provide adequate transportation infrastructure that can handle the region’s increasing traffic demands.

Utah Department of Transportation: I-15 Corridor and other projects

“I-15 is going to see some major renovation in the next couple of years,” said Kevin Kitchen, a spokesman for UDOT’s Region 4. “By that, I mean additional capacity.”

UDOT plans to add a third lane to the roadway in either direction between mile markers 6 and 8 (the Dixie Drive interchange and St. George Boulevard interchange) in St. George and again between mile markers 10 and 13 (the Green Springs interchange and Washington Parkway interchange) in Washington City.

The project between miles 6 and 8 will undergo an environmental study set to start soon, followed by design work in 2023 and construction possibly starting in 2024. The environmental study will look at the transportation needs in the area, which includes the potential for a new I-15 interchange at 700 South.

Work to be done between miles 10 and 13 is further along, with construction expected to start in 2023. This includes the Exit 11 interchange that will connect to Main Street in Washington City.

UDOT spokesman Kevin Kitchen speaks about work to be done on I-15 at the 2022 Dixie Regional Transportation Expo, St. George, Utah, Feb. 8, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler. St. George News

On the calendar for this summer is the building of a new pedestrian tunnel that will run under Bluff Street between Main Street and I-15. The new tunnel will connect the east and west sides of the Hilton Drive Trail and provide a safer crossing for pedestrians. A road closure on Bluff Street between Black Ridge Drive and River Side Drive is anticipated to take place once the project commences.

UDOT also plans to engage in road preservation work between Veyo and Central on state Route 18. The work is planned for the summer or fall of 2022.

St. George

3000 East Corridor

The big project for St. George this year and next is the 3000 East corridor, from the intersection of Mall Drive south to 2630 South. Mall Drive from Riverside Drive to 3000 East is also a part of this project. The overall project involves widening the roadway, improving intersections and storm drain work.

Improvements to 3000 East are being done to accommodate the growth in the Washington Fields/Little Valley area. It will also be one of the primary roads leading to the Red Cliffs Temple being built by the intersection with 1580 South.

Jay Sandberg, of the city of St. George’s public works department, said work on the first two segments of the project – the segment of Mall Drive and to just south of 1140 South – had completed. Work on the next segment in the area of 1450 South to 1580 South is currently underway and includes a large drainage project.

Road construction on 3000 East in St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Dixie Regional Transportation Expo, St. George News

Work on 1580 South to 2000 South has been awarded to a contractor and is now waiting for necessary materials to arrive, while the remaining sections between 2000 South and 2630 South likely won’t see much work until the next year.

Additional information on the 3000 East corridor and other pending road projects in St. George, as well as new traffic signal locations and the status of SunTran transit expansion, was previously reported on by St. George News last month.

Parks and trails

Known for its many parks and extensive trail system, St. George has added new parks and has others in the works. Among these is the new Atkinville Wash Park being built in SunRiver, as well as a new park to be built in the Ledges area that will include a playground, pickleball courts and other park-related amenities.

Trail-wise, the Virgin River South Trail is designed to run on the south side of the Virgin River from I-15 to Bloomington Park. Proposed work is currently out for bid and expected to start around June.

St. George Regional Airport

The St. George Regional Airport is currently rolling out its master plan with an outlook for the next 20-30 years. The master plan calls for improvements to the airport terminal and facility overall and identifies various funding avenues that can be used to accomplish those goals.

File photo of a plane from the Dallas-Fort Worth connecting with the jet bridge at the St. George Regional Airport, allowing passengers to disembark, St. George, Utah, Sept. 26, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

As with the rest of the projects featured at the transportation expo, improvements to the airport are needed to keep up with the area’s growth, as well as increasing use. 2021 saw a record year for outbound flights at 130,000.

As for future and returning flight destinations, airport manager Richard Stehmeier said flights on American Airlines to Dallas-Fort Worth will return March 27.

“I’ll be going to San Antonio to meet with airlines next week to look at Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, all those other destinations,” Stehmeier said.

While the pandemic is not as grave a concern for the airline industry as it was last year, the big challenge the airlines face now is a shortage of pilots, Stehmeier said. Around 30% of airline pilots overall took early retirement in the early days of the pandemic, and replacing them hasn’t been easy, he said.

Washington City: Washington Dam Road and 3560 East to the Southern Parkway

The central project in Washington City for now is the widening of Washington Dam Road that started in mid-November. Work involves widening sections of the road to three and five lanes, as well as upgrading water and other utility lines.

In this file photo, Washington Dam Road between 1900 East and the intersection with the Southern Parkway (state route 7), Washington City, Utah, Nov. 12, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Another project that may see construction begin in the winter of 2023-24 is an extension of 3560 East connecting to state Route 7 (the Southern Parkway).

Hurricane: 2800 West and 700 West

There are many road projects planned for Hurricane, City Engineer Arthur LeBaron said. However, in the short-term, he pointed to projects on 2800 West and 700 West as being of immediate interest.

The 2800 West project will tie into the Southern Parkway where it intersects with state Route 9 and will run north to 600 North. This will be a two-lane roadway that will also feature a paved path along the roadside for pedestrian use. Work is set to begin in June and conclude by Thanksgiving.

Construction of 700 West from 100 North to 600 North is also on the near-future list of projects that city officials hope to begin this year, LeBaron said.

Ivins: Old Highway 91

Old Highway 91 street sign in Ivins, Utah, Jan. 20, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“The big project coming up this year is the Old Highway 91 project,” said Chuck Gillette, Ivins public works director and city engineer.

Work involves widening and resurfacing a part of the road between 200 East and Kwavasa Drive, as well as intersection improvements along that stretch of road. This will include the installation for roundabouts at the 400 West and Kwavasa Drive intersections.

In addition to the roadway improvements, a new shared-use trail will run from 200 East to the Ivins Reservoir.

Toquerville: The Toquerville Bypass

Now referred to as the Toquerville Parkway, the road will start at Anderson Junction off I-15 and run south on the west side of Toquerville where it will eventually connect with state Route 17 on the southern end of town. The primary goal is to divert traffic away from Toquerville’s downtown area.

A part of the Toquerville booth at the Dixie Regional Transportation Expo detailing the forthcoming Toquerville Parkway, St. George Utah, Feb. 8, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News | Click to enlarge

“What we’re hoping is that it keeps downtown nice and preserved,” Toquerville Councilwoman Rachel Peart said. “It brings all of our new growth and development to the bypass road.”

SR-17 through Toquerville has seen an increase of traffic over the years due to the area’s growth, as well as tourist traffic to and from Zion National Park. The Toquerville Parkway is designed to be an alternative to handle that heavy traffic, as well as provide a safer route of travel as it lacks the switchback turns found on SR-17.

Work on the roadway started in January and is anticipated to conclude by mid to late December. The road will run along future development, as well as a new reservoir planned for the area.

Toquerville is hosting a groundbreaking for the new parkway on Feb. 24.

Zion Corridor Trail

The Zion Corridor Trail, an 18-mile trail running from LaVerkin to Springdale, is touted as yet another alternative to traditional vehicle use when it comes to visiting Zion National Park. The trail would also tie into Washington County’s overall trail system and provide a sustainable recreation option for visitors and residents alike.

The price tag of the project is $13.5 million. Nearly $11 million has been awarded to the project by the state as a part of the funding to active transportation projects. Washington County has committed to fund the remainder through transient room tax revenue.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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