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St. George is making walking and biking investments to keep pace with its fast growth

Bluff Street pedestrian tunnel, St. Goerge, Utah, Spet. 23, 2022
Elle Cabrera
/
KUER
St. George officially opens a pedestrian tunnel under Bluff Street for more accessibility, Sept. 23, 2022.

The biggest complaint St. George officials get from residents has to do with traffic. It’s a familiar lament, whether you live in Southern Utah or along the Wasatch Front.

And like Salt Lake City, St. George is investing in more pedestrian and bike-friendly infrastructure as the city continues to grow. A new tunnel under the busy intersection of Bluff Street and Main Street is one of those investments.

David Cordero, the city’s spokesperson, said pedestrian-friendly infrastructure like the new tunnel can help with increasing demand on the roadways. “I think projects like this add to our quality of life as [well as] to the safety of our community,” Cordero said. “Those are the two main things that attract people to St. George and also they help keep people in St. George.”

The fast-growing town is known for its expansive trail system and is a popular spot among athletes. As more and more people visit and move to the area, the traffic growing pains worsen.

The city monitored cyclist and traffic accidents from Salt Lake City and other busy areas to help plan this pedestrian tunnel, said Lloyd Sutton, the city’s active transportation coordinator.

As we're building more infrastructure and we have more people moving here, we have higher populations,” he said. “We want to have things in place already that can improve safety before it becomes too late.”

The Utah Department of Transportation and the city worked together on this approximately $3 million project. UDOT’s goal was to improve quality of life by increasing accessibility and safety.

“I think nationwide, quite frankly, a lot of people are looking for alternatives now to motorized transportation, particularly in urban settings,” said UDOT spokesperson Kevin Kitchen.

To him, a new road system that’s more accessible is an inviting prospect to tourists and elderly residents.

“St. George is fantastic in the sense that they have really embraced active transportation, the ability to move people, with walking or biking and those types of alternatives,” Kitchen said.

In December 2021, the city passed a Complete Streets policy, which requires it to consider all forms of transportation for new roads. Sutton said the city is currently looking to repave Sunset Boulevard to make it more bike-friendly.

Elle Cabrera is a former KUER reporter
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