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UDOT to Advertise Bids by April 2006

Wed January 11, 2006 - West Edition
David S. Chartock

Bids are expected to be advertised by April 2006 for the $16 million Atkinville Interchange, the first of several projects along the proposed $84 million, 20 to 26 mi. (32.2 to 41.8 km) long “Southern Corridor,” beginning in St. George, UT.

The Southern Corridor is land that has been identified for future development of a highway, according to Myron Lee, public information coordinator, Region 4, Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT).

Identified by UDOT as a single point urban interchange, the Atkinville Interchange will connect to existing roads west of the project, ending at the top ramps on the east side of the project, he added.

Included in the project, Lee said, will be on and off ramps and a bridge to a development built west of Interstate 15 (I-15).

Once the bridge is built, property east of I-15 will be developed privately, he pointed out.

The Southern Corridor will start at the Atkinville Interchange and go east and south, tying into the Interstate, he said.

“The Southern Corridor is an environmental document that would allow a transportation facility to be built,” Lee added, noting that “because of limited resources, we are dependent on local government and private interests to preserve the corridor and obtain the right of way and projects along the Southern Corridor as population and growth demands.”

As a result, “developers are snatching up land around Utah’s Dixie at such a fast and furious pace that city officials are scrambling to keep up,” an Associated Press report said.

Tying together much of this development between St. George, the location of the Atkinville Interchange project, and the city of Hurricane, UT, is the Southern Corridor, an $84 million beltway starting 2 mi. (3.2 km) north of the Arizona border on I-15 and looping around to meet State Route 9 in Hurricane, the Associated Press report added.

Elaborating, Lee said the proposed Southern Corridor would be a four-lane, limited access highway that will begin at I-15 about 2 mi. north of the Arizona border near the Southwest end of St. George and connect with State Route 9 near Hurricane. The primary purpose of the Southern Corridor is to provide a regional transportation facility between St. George, Washington City and Hurricane that would complement local land use plans.

According to Lee, the Southern Corridor’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS) described four alternatives for the proposed highway.

The first of these four alternatives was a no-build alternative. This alternative would still require that 400 acres of new, local roadway be constructed.

The second alternative was the 4300 West Alternative. This alternative would have started at the I-15 Interchange and extend 20 mi. (32.2 km) to the intersection of 4300 West with State Route 9 near Hurricane. This alternative would require the construction of 11 interchanges on the Southern Corridor. This alternative required the least amount of right of way, the fewest visual impacts and the least amount of wildlife habitat impacted, the EIS noted.

The third alternative is the 3400 West Alternative. This alternative would also start at I-15 and extend 22 mi. (35.4 km) to the intersection of 3400 West with State Route 9 near Hurricane. This alternative would require 10 interchanges on the Southern Corridor. The EIS said this alternative had more disadvantages than advantages to proceed.

The fourth alternative, the 2800 West Alternative, is the preferred alternative, according to the EIS. This alternative would start at I-15 and extend 26 mi. (41.8 km) to the intersection of 2800 West with State Route 9 in Hurricane. This alternative is the most easterly on State Route 9 and would require 12 interchanges.

While the 2800 West Alternative is the preferred alternative, offering the least environmental impacts, it is the costliest at more than $209 million, the EIS pointed out.

The preferred alternative was selected based on public and city support and environmental impacts. It involves fewer property owners, improves access to recreation sites and projected future development, offers better opportunities for an east-west connection from Hurricane, is the best location to connect with State Route 9, and has the lowest number of cultural sites affected, the EIS noted.

The Final EIS reiterated the benefits of the 2800 West Alternative, Lee said.

The Atkinville Interchange contract, which initiates the launch of the Southern Corridor project, he added, will be awarded in the fall of 2006. CEG

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