ST. GEORGE — A plan to build an 18-mile asphalt trail that will connect a park in LaVerkin to a town just outside of Zion National Park is one step closer to reality following a $10.8 million grant issued by a state commission last month.
But you'll have to wait a few years before it becomes reality.
The Utah Transportation Commission approved the funds that will go to Washington County and the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office for their plan to build the Zion Corridor Trail that will run within the county between the LaVerkin Confluence Park and Springdale.
The trail, which will also be 12 feet wide, is slated to cut through parts of Hurricane, Virgin and Rockville between LaVerkin and Springdale. The plan is that people can walk and run, as well as ride a bicycle or e-bike to and from those communities on the outskirts of Zion National Park, according to the tourism office.
Washington County officials previously set aside $2.7 million toward the estimated $13.5 million project because they were required to set aside at least 20% of project costs to qualify for state funds.
Tourism officials said the current preferred route is for the trail to run along an old highway bed just south of state Route 9. The project leaders are currently going through environmental assessment studies and right-of-way clearance processes before construction begins.
They added that construction is expected to begin in about two years and take about five to six years to complete, which means the trail isn't expected to be completed until sometime toward 2028 or 2029.
"This is such a big win for county residents and our visitors," said Kevin Lewis, the director of Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, in a statement Tuesday.
Lewis added that a lofty goal was previously pitched to build a trail that connects St. George to the national park. The Zion Corridor Trail "keeps that vision alive."
"It will provide a significant addition to the overall goal of the Greater Zion Trail Network for Washington County," he said. "After many years of thoughtful preparation, this is a victory for all of us."
In all, the Utah Transportation Commission approved close to $35 million toward nearly a dozen projects during its meeting on Aug. 13. The money came from a bill passed by the state legislature earlier this year and then allocated by the commission to various projects across the state.
The commission also allotted over $7.5 million toward the Salem Canal Road Trail project in Utah County during the August meeting, which is the second-largest grant awarded that day. Another $4.1 million will go toward a Main Street underpass at the Logan River (600 South) in Logan, while $2.5 million is for a shared-use path that connects the Parley's Trail at 900 West to the Jordan River Trail in Salt Lake County.