Ravell Call, Deseret News
ST. GEORGE — Multiple campgrounds and trailheads within the Red Cliffs Recreation Area will be closed through Thursday for a bridge construction project.
The Bureau of Land Management closed the area Tuesday to test the land and prepare for the installation of two bridges across Quail Creek on Red Cliffs Road to replace two low-water crossings, said Dawna Ferris, assistant field office manager of the BLM’s St. George Field Office.
"Bridges would be safer than the low-water crossings for vehicle travel and pedestrians, particularly when seasonal runoff, heavy rain events and flash floods can significantly increase the amount of water that flows in Quail Creek, across the low-water crossings," Ferris said.
The closure was required to ensure pubic safety, she said. A drill rig and other potentially hazardous heavy equipment will be operating along the only access road into the campground and the day-use areas.
During the temporary closure, work crews will use heavy equipment for geotechnical testing meant to characterize the soils and underlying rock in the area and identify any safety concerns like active faults, Ferris said. Structural engineers will then use the data to determine how to design the bridges for safety.
The public visitation closure affects Red Cliffs Road from the entrance gate to the campground, including the road loop and the day-use area.
The closure also applies to three trails, including the Red Reef Trail from the campground to the U.S. Forest Service boundary, the Silver Reef Trail and the Anasazi Trail.
However, the White Reef Trailhead, accessible west of I-15 from the Red Cliffs Road, and the non-motorized trails in the White Reef area will stay open to the public.
Ferris said the bridge construction is one of several projects planned for the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, including maintenance and improvements of existing facilities such as picnic shelters, fencing and fire rings.
After testing, replacing the low-water crossings will prompt another temporary closure during the construction phase, when the other proposed campground maintenance projects will be completed, she said. The date for the construction phase is not yet set.
The Red Cliffs Recreation Area projects are meant to "better protect public safety and maintain high-quality visitor facilities," Ferris said.
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