Work on interstate widening, Mall Drive underpass begins

ST. GEORGE – Work on widening Interstate 15 between Exits 8 and 10 and the accompanying Mall Drive Underpass began Tuesday and will continue around the clock until completed later this year.

Heavy equipment and work crews appeared in the median between north and southbound I-15 near the area of the Red Cliffs Mall Tuesday and will be a constant presence into December.

Work on expanding I-15 between Exits 8 and 10 in conjunction with the creation of a highway underpass connecting Red Cliffs Parkway and Red Hills Drive begins, St. George, Utah, May 31, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Work on expanding I-15 between Exits 8 and 10 in conjunction with the creation of a highway underpass connecting Red Cliffs Parkway and Red Hills Drive begins, St. George, Utah, May 31, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

They will be widening the 2-mile stretch of interstate from two lanes to three lanes and attempting to do it with as little impact on daytime travel as possible.

“One of our goals is to keep traffic moving as it is critical to commuters running back and forth – and also freight,” said Kevin Kitchen, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation.

Work is also being done to keep the impact to traffic on Red Hills Parkway and Red Cliffs Drive to a minimum.

Between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., all lanes will be open to traffic. However, traffic on I-15 through the construction zone will be reduced to a single lane of travel in both directions between 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Construction for the underpass requires crews to reduce access on Red Cliffs Drive in the area of North 1680 East and Mall Drive to three lanes during the nighttime hours. During this time, one of the lanes will act as a turning lane.

Road officials are hoping to leave travel on Red Hills Parkway unchanged during construction.

Work on widening I-15 will also be done inward instead of outward where possible, Kitchen said. This means the new lanes will be built where the median currently exists.

With work going around the clock, Kitchen said, it is anticipated that new lanes and the underpass will be completed by Thanksgiving.

Graphic of the layout of I-15's widening between Exits 8 and 10 and the Mall Drive underpass. | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News
Rendering of the layout of I-15’s widening between Exits 8 and 10 and the Mall Drive underpass. | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

The area between Exits 8 and 10, also known as the Green Springs (Drive) and St. George Boulevard interchanges, respectively, was identified as a “choke point” on I-15 by an environmental assessment study. The study identified improvements needed on the I-15 corridor between the Arizona border and Utah mile 16.

“We looked at the corridor and realized that eventually we’d need those additional lanes all the way through Washington County,” Kitchen said.

It is anticipated by both state and local road officials that the additional lanes and underpass will help take pressure off of the Exit 10/Green Springs interchange.

The Green Springs interchange is notorious in the region for traffic congestion and has been called “broken” by Washington City officials in recent years. Some pressure on the intersection has been taken off with the opening of the Mall Drive Bridge in September 2014.

An rendering of how the Mall Drive Underpass may look once completed. | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News
A rendering of how the Mall Drive underpass may look once completed. | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

As for the new underpass, it is meant to improve local access between Red Cliffs Drive and Red Hills Parkway without having to use Green Springs Drive or St. George Boulevard interchanges. New traffic signals on both roads will also be installed at the underpass location as a part of the project.

UDOT and the City of St. George stated in a news release they would like to remind the public to be aware of 24/7 work crews, lane shifts, other drivers and pedestrians while traveling through all construction zones.

Zero Fatalities and zero injuries is a goal we can all live with,” UDOT officials said in the release about the project.

The overall project is estimated to cost $27 million. UDOT carries the bulk of that at $21 million. The additional $6 million is evenly split between the City of St. George and funds received from the State Infrastructure Bank, Kitchen said.

The next project UDOT is looking at, which could begin next year, Kitchen said, is widening I-15 between Exits 4 and 5.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

12 Comments

  • Chris June 1, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Our new main intersection when we move to StG in September. Oh well, that’s progress.

  • MrPratt June 1, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Any reasons given why off/on ramps were not included in the project? It seems that off/on ramps would help the flow of traffic at Green Springs and St. George Blvd. ramps.

    • Jeff June 1, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Exactly what I was wondering. On/Off ramps to I-15 would be a HUGE help here. Green Springs and St George Blvd are a mess and will only get worse. This will help, but a lot of the traffic at Green Springs / St George Blvd is getting on/off the freeway.

      • Brian June 2, 2016 at 10:48 am

        You have to understand the way government works. You don’t just do a project right the first time, silly! You have to do it wrong, then improve it, then do it right. That way there is 3x the money passed among friends. Actually, it’s more like 5x or more, since each successive project gets more expensive.

        Take Pioneer Parkway, for instance. They had do spend all of the time and money and environmental impact studies to “improve it” the first time by making it a slightly straighter single lane and barely increasing the speed limit, THEN they come back a short time later and start all over, making it two lanes and with lots of landscaping thrown in (“Hmm, how can we make sure that road includes lots of FUTURE spending, too?”).

        The same pattern was followed on the Bluff Street and Dixie Drive interchanges, where the paint on the lines wasn’t even dry before they were ripping it up and completely redoing it.

        So on this project when you see that they have this odd bulge to the north, with no real need, its because they’re leaving room to add on/off ramps in a couple years.

        Everybody wins (except the tax payer, who doesn’t count).

  • Allie June 1, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    I am happy to see these improvements being made, but one of the problems of any entrance ramp going on to the interstate is people who do not get up to speed to merge onto the interstate. The entrance to I-15S at Green Springs is horrible. People make the turn onto the ramp, which ramp is long enough to get to the posted speed limit. But, people dilly dally along and only do 40 -50 mph when they get on the highway. This causes the people who are on the highway in the right hand lane and unable to switch to the left to pass, to slow down which causes a huge back up. Traffic on I-15 is traveling at the posted speed of 65 mph. It would be nice if that area were patrolled and people were ticketed for traveling to slow upon merging. They should be doing at least 60 mpg when they enter onto the right hand lane of the interstate. I like the long ramps allowing me to gain speed to merge into traffic. In PA, we had STOP signs at the end of the ramp just before merging. The driver had to find a large enough break in traffic to go from 0-60 in order to merge. Needless to say, there were many accidents and backups on those ramps.

    The area of Bingham Rd. exit on I-15 S. is another bad spot. People are entering the roadway a quarter of a mile before the exit, while people are slowing down for the exit. Whose bright idea was that?

    • Shane June 1, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      Allie you bring up a lot of good points but the posted speed is now 70mph not 65

  • Billy Madison June 1, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    I’m happy to see these much needed changes, it will improve traffic flow in an area that needs it. However, I’m still worried about the burnt Frito’s, will that place be rebuilt soon?

  • R. June 1, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    The photo included in the article makes it look like the underpass will be somewhere between Arctic Circle and Bucca, that’s not Mall Drive. Isn’t Mall Dr. where the mortuary is?

    • Bob June 2, 2016 at 12:44 am

      mall drive is at the end of the rainbow where the unicorns are and also candy land

  • youcandoit June 1, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    The reason people don’t drive fast is because of people not getting over so you can gain speed. A few years ago Utah had to make a law curtious law to move over. I hate st George blvd. There should be 2 lanes to get on I-15 and if you’re not from here you’re going to have to take freeway which in the drivers handbook it states you keep driving get off next exit. It seems this place is set up for accidents. The rumors the old mayor didn’t want families here. I’ve been in Ut for 26yrs now I’ve seen major changes for the better, I love seeing people move here from everywhere because they’ll at least talk to you.

  • rusty shackleford June 2, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Why doesn’t the new underpass road connect to Mall Drive? There will be three lights on Red Cliffs in front of the Mall. 1680 East has a light, the new road will have a light, and Mall Drive has a light. Good luck with traffic backing up. St. George City engineers already have problems with the rest of the lights on Red Cliffs/River Road. You can drive the speed limit and hit every light red. Poor design.

  • .... June 3, 2016 at 4:35 am

    All I see is another place for gangbangers to tag

Leave a Reply