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St. George to open new pedestrian tunnel near Interstate 15


Signs block the path where a new pedestrian tunnel is set to open alongside Interstate 15 in St. George. City transportation managers say the new tunnel will make it safer to pedestrians and cyclists to cross the busy roadway and relieve some of the congestion on roads like Bluff Street and Black Ridge Road.

One of St. George’s busiest stretches of road is about to see at least some relief, especially for pedestrians and cyclists, with the scheduled opening later this month of a new tunnel along Interstate 15.

The new tunnel, which was still busy with construction equipment as of Thursday morning, provides a new way for pedestrians and cyclists to cross underneath Bluff Street just off of I-15, keeping them off the busy intersection at Bluff, Main Street and Black Ridge Drive and connecting a key piece of the city’s paved trail system.

The Utah Department of Transportation has been working with the City of St. George on the project, which should connect to the east and west side of the Hilton Drive Trail. The estimated cost was more than $3 million.

A new pedestrian tunnel is planned to cut underneath Bluff Street and connect pedestrian and bike paths.

City officials planned a ceremonial official opening for Sept. 23, with a short program and ribbon-cutting slated to start at 9 a.m.

Members of the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance had volunteered to lead a community bike ride through the tunnel to celebrate the new construction. Anyone interested in joining the ride is invited to meet at 8 a.m. at the Crosby Confluence Park, 2099 S. Convention Center Drive.

The city has long promoted its network of paved trails as both a way to provide recreational opportunities to residents and to offer alternative modes of transportation for those interested. Some 50 miles of paved trails crisscross into most parts of the city, often following natural waterways like the Virgin and Santa Clara rivers.

Cycling advocates across the state have been working with traffic planners, public safety officers and local governments to encourage more bike-friendly communities, citing a lengthy list of potential benefits to public health, traffic and the economy.

The national trends are pointing in that direction — studies indicate the number of people either walking or biking to work or school has increased 40 percent over the past 10 years.

The site of a new pedestrian tunnel next to Interstate 15 in St. George was still under construction on Thursday, although crews planned to have it open soon, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and short program scheduled by city officials for Sept. 23.

David DeMille writes about southwestern Utah for The Spectrum & Daily News, a USA TODAY Network newsroom based in St. George. Follow him at @SpectrumDeMille or contact him at ddemille@thespectrum.com. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.





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