WASHINGTON D.C — On Friday, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney announced from the Department of Transportation that more than $70 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would be awarded to the Utah Department of Transportation for the Interstate 15 South Iron County Freight, Mobility and Safety Project.

People drive through the diverging diamond interchange near Interstate 15’s Exit 57, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 16, 2023 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, Cedar City News

This project will add a northbound climbing lane on I-15 and replace an interchange in Cedar City, which will benefit the public by expediting and combining the environmental processes, synchronizing the construction schedules and reducing mobilization costs.

“I-15 is a locally, regionally and nationally significant freight corridor that provides a critical link between the ports in California and the inland West,” Sen. Romney said in a press release. “Iron County’s population and employment is expected to grow by 40% over the next few decades. The I-15 South Iron County Freight, Mobility and Safety Project is critical to Cedar City and Southern Utah — helping to reduce congestion and improve safety for both slow-moving vehicles and faster traffic.”

Utah receiving funds for expanded highways and infrastructure due to the bipartisan bill was necessary for the project being implemented in Iron County, state officials said.

“We are grateful for the leadership and hard work of Senator Romney and our entire congressional delegation in securing this important funding to help keep Utah moving,” Utah Department of Transportation Executive Director Carlos Braceras said. “This grant will allow us to make several improvements on I-15 that will enhance safety and increase traffic flow, including upgrading a key interchange and widening the interstate to three northbound lanes near Cedar City. We look forward to getting started on these projects and are committed to maximizing this investment in Utah’s transportation infrastructure.”

People drive through the diverging diamond interchange near Interstate 15’s Exit 57, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 16, 2023 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, Cedar City News

I-15 is a critical link between California ports and the inland West, resulting in trucks accounting for one-third of the traffic on this primary freight network route. The I-15 South Iron County Freight, Mobility and Safety Project will add a climbing lane and replace the south Cedar City interchange from a diverging-diamond interchange to single-point urban interchange design.

This interchange in its current configuration is expected to fail between 2025 and 2030, leading to long delays and excessive vehicle queue lengths, the press release stated.

“Iron County is excited about the climbing lane project which will facilitate better transportation in our county,” Iron County Commissioner Marilyn Wood said. “Thanks to UDOT, Senator Romney, and all involved in the design and funding of this crucial project.”

Additionally, this I-15 project will improve access to employment opportunities for low-medium income residents of Iron County through reduced travel delays and will positively impact local air quality by reducing the time that vehicles will spend idling in queues at the interchange.

Bipartisan bill highlights for Utah:

$24.5 million for the Utah Department of Transportation to fund pedestrian and bicycle improvements to 10 light rail stations and 13 bus stops along the Wasatch Front.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney speaks with constituents at a town hall meeting in St. George, Utah, on Aug. 28, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

$317 million to the State of Utah to help expand high-speed internet access to rural and underserved communities.

$29 million to the Salt Lake City International Airport for a phased Terminal and North Concourse Redevelopment Program replacing aging and capacity constrained facilities.
$7.4 million to Park City Transit to improve more than 72 bus stops, including rider amenities.
$10 million through the Department of Interior to advance wildfire resilience work and support fuels management projects in Utah on 43,240 acres of land across the state.
$12 million to the State of Utah for clean water projects that will support Utah communities in upgrading essential water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure that protects public health and bodies of water. 
$60 million to the Utah Transit Authority for its Light Rail Vehicle Replacement Project. 
$70 million to the Utah Department of Transportation for the I-15 South Iron County Freight, Mobility, and Safety Project.
Increased funding for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Northern Utah and the Pine Valley area of the Dixie National Forest near St. George to build critical infrastructure and strengthen wildfire resilience.

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