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Virgin River Gorge packed with holiday, construction traffic

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MOJAVE COUNTY, Arizona -- Utah drivers coming north on Interstate 15 got a taste of what construction in the Virgin River Gorge will be like when combined with holiday travel.

Traffic was delayed several hours and more than three miles Monday afternoon as the stream of cars navigated the construction zone. The Arizona Department of Transportation is in the middle of a resurfacing project on two of the bridges in the gorge.

Northbound two lanes became one, bottle-necking the holiday traffic.

“The heavy flow of traffic because of President’s Day and Valentine’s Day has caused a lot of traffic to back up,” said Arizona Highway Patrol Trooper Thomas Callister.

Once drivers got inside the gorge, it was a little more smooth sailing. The big hold ups were at the entrance. Callister said they it’s something they anticipated on the busier weekends, and something that they prepared for.

“We have extra troopers on today helping to patrol and manage the traffic control,” Callister said.

Even with extra help, the cars only crawled.  Callister said it’s a precursor to what drivers can expect on upcoming busy weekends like spring break. The best advice, plan ahead and give plenty of time.

“Be patient with the cars around you,” Calister said. “Everyone is stuck in the same boat. If everybody just stays courteous and respectful to the people around them they’ll make it through it and the delays won’t be that long.”

Drivers can also take an alternate route around the gorge on old Highway 91.

The Virgin River Gorge improvement project is expected to finish this summer, but a bridge reconstruction project will cause delays into 2015.

For more information on the Virgin River Gorge reconstruction project, visit ADOT’s website, here: http://www.azdot.gov/media/News/news-release/2013/12/19/virgin-river-gorge-bridge-improvements-scheduled-for-interstate-15