UDOT revealing new design on Bluff Street overhaul

These preliminary designs - created in 2012 - on the Bluff/ Sunset construction project are reported to be changing, St. George, Utah | Graphic courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Plans could be changing for a new interchange at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Bluff Street as the Utah Department of Transportation’s Bluff Street corridor construction project moves forward. The preliminary “jug-handle underpass” design of the Sunset/Bluff intersection has been changed to a design that will be less impactful, according to a UDOT official. This new design is still being finalized and will be on display at a public open house in mid-June.

Preliminary designs - created in 2012 - for Bluff Street Mainline construction, St. George, Utah | Graphic courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News
Preliminary designs – created in 2012 – for Bluff Street Mainline construction, St. George, Utah | Graphic courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

The Sunset/Bluff intersection is the first of a three-part Bluff Street corridor construction project which will widen a section of mainline Bluff Street and construct new interchanges at St. George and Sunset Boulevards.

The funding for all three parts of the project has been approved, however, only the Sunset intersection phase has been funded so far. Funding for the other projects is expected in the next few years.

The expected total cost of the Sunset/Bluff intersection is $20 million, according to UDOT. That cost includes everything from planning, designing, property acquisition, and of course construction. The costs of all UDOT’s current Southern Utah construction projects can be found here.

Although the start time is not officially scheduled, construction on the redesigned Sunset intersection is expected to begin in January 2015 and should be complete within the year, UDOT region 4 spokesperson Kevin Kitchen said.

The other two parts of the project – Mainline Bluff Street and the St. George Boulevard/Bluff intersection – may be combined since they occur in the same area. However, since they haven’t been funded yet, only preliminary designs have been made, and actual construction isn’t expected to begin until 2018, Kitchen said. This is only an estimated time frame and could change.

Preliminary Designs – as per the Environmental Assessment

In 2012, UDOT and the Federal Highway Administration completed an Environmental Assessment with preliminary plans for the Bluff Street corridor project. These original plans are in various stages of being polished and altered as the process proceeds, Kitchen said. The plans in the Environmental Assessment are basically UDOT’s first suggestion – officially called “selected alternatives” – that can be change just as the “jug-handle underpass” may be.

  • Mainline Bluff Street widening – Designed to expand a section of Bluff Street between St. George Boulevard and 500 North – from 5 to 7 traffic lanes.
  • Bluff/ St. George Boulevard U-Turn intersection – Because of the topography of the Black Hill, plus high volumes of traffic, and high density of buildings, UDOT’s preliminary design would force all driver’s wanting to turn left at this intersection to drive an extra block and navigate a U-Turn with assistance form new traffic lights, middle lanes, and circular turn-arounds – see graphic below.
  • Jug-handle underpass – Being re-designed – new design will be revealed on June 18 at 4 p.m. at the St. George City Council Chambers. Original design was meant to keep traffic free-flowing with no signal lights needed.

Business Relocations

This entire project will affect many businesses along Bluff Street. In the preliminary study, called the “Environmental Assessment,” UDOT reports that this construction project would acquire 15 full properties – 29 businesses and 1 residence – along with 44 partial properties.

Preliminary designs - created in 2012 - for U-Turn intersection at Bluff Street/ St. George Boulevard, St. George, Utah | Graphic courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News
Preliminary designs – created in 2012 – for U-Turn intersection at Bluff Street/ St. George Boulevard, St. George, Utah | Graphic courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

Although Kitchen said it is too early in the process to give specifics on property relocations, he did say that the property owners have been involved since early in the process and that UDOT has been working closely with them to make sure that no one’s rights are getting trampled. Kitchen said the following details will be available in the future:

  • the fair market value of these properties
  • which propertyies would be taken
  • how much of each property will be affected

“As we get a little closer,” Kitchen said, “we will have a little bit of a better feel for which specific owners and how much of the property we would need.”

He did say that the building on the northeast corner of the Bluff/St. George Boulevard intersection will most likely be taken.

“Virtually everything they looked at ended up taking that corner lot.”

This entire project came under scrutiny by area residents and business owners in a public hearing held in February 2012. Community members shared general displeasure with several things. Among those things were the prospect of area businesses being forced to relocate, the nontraditional design of the U-turn intersection, as well as the impacts a jug-handle underpass would have on the Dixie Red Hills golf course and residents of the Sunstone community near the jug-handle.

Purpose of the Project

According to the Environmental Assessment, the purpose of the project is to improve traffic flow to accommodate future travel demands as far out as 2040 on the Bluff Street Mainline. The need to improve traffic flow is driven by a growing population and travel demand in St. George and its surrounding communities, according to the assessment.

The assessment cited population growth estimates from the Governors Office of Planning and Budget that estimate that the St. George, Santa Clara and Ivins populations will grow by more than 300 percent by 2040. The assessment states that if no improvements are made in this area, an increase in travel demand will lead to failing traffic operations by 2040 on this section of Mainline Bluff Street and the two proposed intersections.

Resources

  • A public open house on the new Bluff Street overpass design will be held June 18 at 4 p.m. at the St. George City Council Chambers
  • The entire Environmental Assessment can be read here
  • UDOT’s Bluff Street Corridor website which lists updates on Bluff Street Construction can be found here

Related Posts

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8 Comments

  • Rick May 29, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    UDOT is out of control along with the city of St George! These make busy projects turn into total crap the people don’t want but yet are shoved down our throats. The total fiasco at 18/bluff is a total waste of money, the traffic going north and south is nowhere near the traffic going east and west. Our tax dollars are being fleeced by UDOT and the city! Certain contractors are making bank.

  • solargear079 May 29, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    This design still does not help with the traffic that is coming down from veyo side of Bluff needing to merg all the way over to turn left on Vally View after turning right onto Sunset. The is the BIGGEST PROBLEM in that area. The raod designers need to rethink this intersection again

    • Alvin May 30, 2014 at 5:24 am

      Go to the other liquor store if that turning maneuver is too difficult for you.

      • DB May 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm

        Alvin, thanks for the laugh! Solargearr079, If you’re southbound on Hwy 18 and want to get on Valley View, try this: Turn right a little before Sunset into the shopping center near The Egg and I. Work your way around through two small roundabouts and you will find yourself at the traffic light near the Del Taco, pointed right down Valley View.

  • sagemoon May 30, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Here I was, just reading the article, when I realized the building they are talking about taking out houses Baskin Robbins. Nooooo!!!! I hope they are able to find a new location. Any maneuver that decreases my access to ice cream will make me unhappy. I really don’t see that intersection as much of a problem. The intersection at Sunset and Bluff is just ridiculous.

  • My Evil Twin May 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    On a positive note: Nobody is talking about putting in round-a-bouts! Hard to believe. . .

  • Matthew Sevald May 30, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Detractors, have vision; patience.
    .
    Bluff is the first change to come. Eventually Sunset, STG Blvd, River Rd/Red cliffs, Red Hills Pkwy near Washington will all be expanded. All in due time.
    .
    Hopefully though they’ll upgrade Southern Parkway into an interstate and expand it to the south of santa clara / ivins to completely circumvent bluff/sunset. Having an interstate loop around the cities between Ivins-Hurricane would be a real blessing to not even have to deal with all the morons on the surface roads to begin with.
    .
    For now, I’ll settle with upping the speed limit to 50 mph on most of these bigger streets. Time to grow up St George!

  • zzzz May 30, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    i don’t what y’all think. but the new diverging diamond thing is fully retarded… waste of $$$

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