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Construction work in Virgin River Gorge causes traffic backups, delays for drivers

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Posted at 7:31 PM, Apr 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-02 21:31:47-04

MOHAVE COUNTY, Arizona - If you’re planning a trip to Nevada or Southern California, plan for some extra time. Traffic delays in the Virgin River Gorge are averaging between three and four miles during the day.

Arizona Highway Patrol said they plan for delays around heavy traffic weeks, but the backups still happen. Monday, northbound traffic backed up close to seven miles. It’s a combination of spring break traffic and those getting away for an extended Easter weekend.

“We determined we needed extra patrol officers, we put up additional visual message boards,” said Sgt. John Bottoms. “We’re now doing some traffic breaks, to create distance between the stopped traffic and the traffic coming in at traffic speeds.”

The major slowdown is the result of an ongoing project to rebuild one of the bridges along the busy section of I-15. Traffic is down to one lane while crews work.

At this point, most of the traffic snarls have been northbound, but Bottoms said they expect that to shift to the southbound lanes this weekend. The best advice to drivers is just to slow down and be on the lookout for those traffic signs.

“We do get handfuls of them that aren’t paying attention to any of the signs,” Bottoms said. “And they’re coming around some of these curves way too fast.”

The biggest problems troopers face include drivers merging too soon, blocking other drivers form passing, and semitrailers using the wrong lane.

“In their mind I think they’re trying to help us by keeping everybody in one lane,” Bottoms said. “But it creates a longer back up, and it creates a slower moving traffic jam. “

The only real alternative to I-15 is old Highway 90 through Santa Clara. Troopers said the traffic is manageable as long as people take it easy, watch for signs and allow a little extra time.

Traffic conditions can be checked by dialing 511 in state, or by clicking here.