UDOT exploring alternatives for intersection upgrade after business owners express concern

Posted at 10:43 PM, Jan 29, 2015

ST. GEORGE, Utah – The Utah Department of Transportation says an upgrade of the busy intersection of Bluff Street and Sunset will not go forward as previously planned. Engineers are still weighing options before anything is done.

The project was originally set to start this summer. UDOT estimates 40,000 cars use the intersection every year, and projections put the traffic at 60,000 by 2040. The original Environmental Assessment identified what’s called a “Jug Handle” as the preferred option, but after several businesses expressed concern, that plan was scrapped.

“We’re proceeding cautiously on our approach now,” says UDOT project manager Branden Anderson. “We’re exploring some alternatives.”

The extended delays have been noticed by local business owners who said they’ve been waiting to see what UDOT does with the intersection. Massage Envy St. George owner Roy Thacker said he’s seen lots of surveying along Bluff Street and worried UDOT was going forward without input from businesses.

“There’s a lot of concerns that these business owners have here in this project that needs to be addressed,” Thacker said. “And I don’t feel like we’re getting heard.”

One of those concerns is how the city will handle sign ordinances after the intersection is rebuilt, another is traffic bypassing the nearby shopping center altogether.

UDOT said the current plan being considered is called a "High T," where the north/south traffic is taken over the turn lanes. It’s a pattern engineers said would address long term concerns, but Anderson said they’re also looking at a phased approach.

“We maybe do something now, then in the future, maybe 15, 20 years down the line, build that long term solution for this intersection,” Anderson said.

Whatever plan UDOT chooses, business owners just hope they are included in the discussion.

“Changing it or putting a circle, which is confusing, and then all the construction, I think it’s going to hurt Sunset Corner,” says Red Rock Aloha owner Pamela Dawber.

UDOT met with the St. George city county council Thursday to update them on the Bluff Street project, and revised plans will be presented for additional public comment at the Regional Transportation Expo on Feb. 10. More information on the project can be found on UDOT's website.