WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
Veterans Memorial Highway
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Interstate 15 replaced old
as the main north-south route through Washington County.
It provided four lanes of good road and shortened the length of travel
by cutting through the Virgin River Gorge.
ROUTEInterstate 15 (I-15) is a major transcontinental north-south highway in the western United States that extends more than 1,470 miles through the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Montana.
It runs for 43 miles roughly northnortheast right through the center of Washington county.
HISTORYWork on I-15 was started on ??/??/196?.
Milemarkers are measured from the south end at the Arizona/Utah border.
Exit 42 (Mile 42.159; Km 67.848)
Serves New Harmony to the west and Kanarraville (Iron County) to the north.
Exit 40 (Mile 40.253; Km 64.781)
Provides access to the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park on the east and the south end of the Harmony Valley on the west.
Exit 36 (Mile 36.763; Km 59.164)
This is the Black Ridge "Ranch Exit".
Exit 33 (Mile 33.435; Km 53.808)
This is the Snowfield "Ranch Exit".
Exit 31 (Mile 31.861; Km 51.275)
Provides access to Pintura.
Exit 30 (Mile 30.682; Km 49.378)
Provides access to Browse.
Exit 27 (Mile 27.470; Km 44.209)
Exit 27 at Anderson Junction connects I-15 to the north end of SR-17 leading down to Toquerville and LaVerkin.
Exit 23 (Mile 23.703; Km 38.146)
There is only a northbound entrance and southbound exit here.
Provides access to the communities of Leeds and Silver Reef.
Exit 22 (Mile 22.579; Km 36.337)
In 1964, the section of I-15 passing through Leeds was completed with the Exit 22 interchange serving the communities of Leeds and Silver Reef.
There is currently only a northbound exit and southbound entrance here.
Exit 16 (Mile 15.888; Km 25.569)
Exit 16 connects I-15 to the west end of SR-9 leading to Hurricane.
Exit 13 (Mile 13.386; Km 21.543)
Washington City started pushing for a new freeway interchange in 1980. The city filed an interchange justification report in 1993. Exit 13 was built in 2005 and opened on June 23 of that year. It cost $12 million to build and was a cooperative effort between the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Washington City, and School Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). The latter owned land under development east of the interchange and it would increase the value of that land. The landscaping around the interchange was designed with native plants. The bridge was originally proposed with a plain face, but plans were changed to include Anasazi Indian artwork at an additional cost of $16,000.
Exit 10 (Mile 10.910; Km 17.558)
The Middleton Interchange was built in ???? to provide access to Washington City. Green Springs Drive goes north from the interchange and North 3050 East runs south from that interchange.
Exit 8 (Mile 8.652; Km 13.924)
The St. George Blvd. interchange serves the northeast end of the City of St. George.
Exit 6 (Mile 6.309; Km 10.153)
The Bluff Street interchange at the south end of Bluff Street serves the southwest end of the City of St. George.
Exit 5 (Mile 5.619; Km 9.043)
The Dixie Drive interchange was built to relieve the traffic congestion at Exit 6.
Construction was begun about July 2010 and was scheduled to run for about a year. The cost was expected to be about $75 million. This Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) project ended up opening in July of 2012 with a final cost of $81 million.
Exit 4 (Mile 4.641; Km 7.469)
The Bloomington interchange at Brigham Road was added in ???? to serve the growing communities of Bloomington and Bloomington Hills.
Northbound Rest Area and Welcome Center (Mile ???; Km ???)
Exit 2 (Mile 2.135; Km 3.436)
The Atkinville Interchange construction began in October of 2007. It was built in 2008 to connect I-15 to the Southern Parkway (SR-7). It serves the already Sun River area to the west and the new replacement airport to the east. The Southern Parkway will eventually be the southeastern part of the Dixie Beltway. The interchange opened to westbound traffic on December 31, 2008. It opened to eastbound traffic (going as far as River Road) on 7/7/2009. It cost $36 million to build.
Northbound and Southbound Ports of Entry (Mile 0.462; Km 0.744)
Virgin River Gorge
While technically not in Washington County, the 29.43 Arizona Strip section of Route 15, including 11 miles through the Virgin River Gorge, is closely associated with the county. It is a shortcut that bypasses the old Highway 91 arc running from Littlefield AZ over the mountain to Santa Clara and St. George. It cut off 12 miles from the old route and was a much easier grade. Earth moving and grading was done by the Arizona Department of Transportation and paving was done by Kiewit and Sons Construction Company. It took a decade to complete. This section of I-15 cost more than $1 million per mile which was the most expensive segment of rural highway ever built in the United States, per mile, when it was opened on December 14, 1973.
WCHS-00156 Photo of the Dominguez-Escalante San Daniel Campsite at I-15 Exit 33
WCHS-00157 Photo of the Dominguez-Escalante San Daniel Campsite Sign at I-15 Exit 33
WCHS-00158 Photo of the Dominguez-Escalante Trail marker at I-15 Exit 33
WCHS-00159 Photo of the Dominguez-Escalante Trail marker at I-15 Exit 33
WCHS-00435 Photo of the newly constructed I-15 and looking north into St. George
WCHS-00436 Photo of the newly constructed I-15 and looking north into St. George
WCHS-01235 Photo of I-15 under construction in the Virgin River Gorge
WCHS-01236 Photo of the underside of a bridge on I-15 in the Virgin River Gorge
REFERENCEWikipedia article about Interstate 15
Wikipedia article about Interstate 15 through Utah
Wikipedia article about Interstate 15 through Arizona
"The Virgin River Gorge"
Classic article in the August 1988 issue of Arizona Highways Magazine
AARoads Article on the Washington County section of Interstate 15
AARoads Article on the Virgin River Gorge section of Interstate 15
SOUTHERN UTAH MEMORIES: Interstate 15 and the Scenic Virgin River Gorge
by Loren R. Webb, July 20, 2012
Article about I-15 in Utah
Article about I-15 in Arizona (note the bibliography)
Article about I-15 in Arizona
Article about historic contruction projects including Arizona I-15
Blog with history including construction of Arizona I-15
Photos of the Virgin River Gorge area