Castle Valley Comments
May 3, 2012
by Ron Drake
May 03, 2012 | 667 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During a meeting with officials of the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) several weeks ago in Moab, we got a better idea of the impacts that will be facing the community beginning this summer.

Of particular interest is the construction of the federally funded transit hub to be built on the southeast corner of U.S. 191 and state Route 128 and the bicycle path, which will be constructed along SR 128. Attending the meeting were representatives of the Castle Valley Town Council and the Castle Valley Fire Department as well as emergency medical services, search and rescue, the sheriff’s department and county emergency management from Moab. Others in attendance included representatives from the Moab Area Travel Council, the Grand County Road Department, and the Grand County Community Development Department.

This project will begin sometime after Labor Day and will take about 14 months to complete, meaning that it will not be finished for the spring travel season in 2013. Project managers said it will be difficult to build the path, causeway and related structures during the winter months but the impacts are not as great since there will be some total road closures during the hours of 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday.

The emphasis during the project will be the emergency traffic to and from Castle Valley, especially during the early-morning closures. A requirement for the contractor will be that two-way radio communication with the sheriff’s office be maintained throughout the length of the project so that the road can be opened up for emergency vehicles. The sheriff’s dispatcher will contact the work site by radio to inform road workers that an emergency vehicle will be coming through and give the contractor time to remove the large equipment from the road.

If an emergency patient is transported to Moab Regional Hospital from Castle Valley by private vehicle during the construction period, a 911 call must be made to the sheriff’s office before leaving. This will give the dispatcher time to contact the contractor and remove the crane and other heavy equipment and open the road. This will only be done for a legitimate medical emergency and a sheriff’s deputy will be there to escort the vehicle to the hospital.

There will be electronic notification boards placed at various locations on U.S. 191, Interstate 70 and SR 128 notifying commuters of the situation at the construction site. During the daytime hours, the road will be reduced to one lane and travelers can expect 15-minute delays during that time. The short length of the closures will make it difficult for the contractor to maintain the planned schedule but UDOT officials said that it will be best for all concerned.

The project will include the construction of the transit hub on the corner of U.S. 191 and SR 128 and a box culvert that will be constructed under SR 128 near the intersection. That will allow the bike traffic to travel under the road and connect with the current bike path now under construction along U.S. 191. The current plan is for the bike path to be built alongside SR 128 in some areas and over the river in other locations where the canyon is too narrow to accommodate both. The current funding will take the path up to Goose Island and eventually to Negro Bill Canyon.

UDOT officials said “it will be a very nice amenity” for the community and that they are trying to maintain a “comfort level” with the contractor and public.

Unrelated to the bike path are three other bridge projects on SR 128, which will begin earlier in the summer, before the other project, and will last about 60 days. They should be completed before the other begins. Two of the bridges will be built west of the Castle Valley turn-off and one to the east. The road will be reduced to one lane at the construction sites and will be controlled by flaggers at each end.

The La Sal Mountain Loop Road will also be closed to through traffic during the summer, according to an announcement from the U.S. Forest Service. Construction is scheduled to begin in June and run through November. Some sections will be reduced to one lane and subject to 30-minute delays. Full road closures will be allowed for the Miner’s Basin and Mill Creek segments of the project. People visiting Warner and Oowah lakes will have to take the Sand Flats Road to reach those destinations.

The project will involve heavy resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation of two segments between mile marker 12.6 to 13.3 and from mile marker 21.1 to 23.1, and similar construction in two other segments. Work will include excavation, retaining walls, drainage, paving, safety improvements, survey, erosion control, permanent and temporary traffic control, and revegetation. The combined length of the four segments will be approximately 7.5 miles.

The proposed road work in our area certainly won’t be the same magnitude as it will be for motorists living along the Wasatch Front, but it will be a major pain, nonetheless. We’ll just have to grit our teeth and suffer through it during this summer and for the next year along the river road.

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