The city of St. George, Utah has made a major investment in the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians with the opening of a $13.2 million interchange. Located at the intersection of Red Hills Parkway and Bluff Street, the new interchange also connects three popular bike trails. With tunnels around the corners, bicyclists will be able to change direction without having to cross busy streets.
The design of the new interchange was a collaborative effort between the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance (SUBA). UDOT changed its mission statement to include road design for cyclists two years ago, and last December marked the first meeting of the St. George Active Transportation Committee, which discusses obstacles facing pedestrians and cyclists in the community.
“It’s no question that all forms of biking has exploded nationally and this has been a springboard for all of us to find a safer routes for people on foot and on bikes,” Committee chairman Marc Mortenson told ABC Utah, adding that the biggest push for the new trails was to assist competitors in the St. George Marathon and Ironman triathlon. In 2013, approximately 13 million bicycles were sold in the United States, and UDOT is committed to making travel easier for the increasing number of bicycle users in Utah.
Initially, SUBA was unhappy with the layout of the bike trails in the UDOT interchange plans.
“The one thing that SUBA did that maybe accelerated the process is instead of complaining about it or saying this doesn’t work, we actually brought forward to UDOT an alternative design that we thought would work better,” Craig Shanklin, SUBA’s president, told ABC Utah, adding that SUBA first approached UDOT at the Dixie Transportation Expo.
UDOT engineers worked with the natural landscape and existing bridge to ensure that the new interchange would be safe for motorists and cyclists alike. According the UDOT, there have been no reports of crashes since the opening of the interchange in December.