The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is urging motorists to plan now for daily three-hour closures expected to begin within the next few weeks on U.S. Highway 89 immediately north of Kanab.

UDOT and bid winning contractor Interstate Rock Products are holding preconstruction meetings this week to discuss the contractor’s work approach to the project which is aimed at preserving the road and improving safety and capacity where the corridor threads between steep rock cliffs and river eroded slopes. Construction starts January 6, 2014, with full closure of the highway expected in the days to follow from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each Monday through Friday until approximately April 11, 2014.

The winter construction schedule has been designed to safeguard the local economy by avoiding interference with the tourist season. By excavating rock during a season of lower traffic volume, engineers also hope to safely maintain traffic when the road is open, keep the work zone safe, and maintain steady production rates so paving can begin when temperatures are sufficiently warm in the spring.

Further efforts to contribute to Kanab’s agricultural base are currently underway immediately adjacent to the road where construction mitigation of an historic tunnel and a water conservancy project to secure water conveyance through the tunnel have begun.

In October, after nearly a decade of attempts to find adequate funding, the Utah Transportation Commission transferred funds saved from other projects to the endeavor.

The U.S. 89 Kanab to Kanab Creek project, valued at $9.8 million, also includes construction of an acceleration lane at the port-of-entry. The port will host emergency services vehicles during project construction to aid in response times to outlying areas.

Due to the dangers associated with blasting, potential rock fall and heavy equipment operations, UDOT urges off-road vehicle operators and hikers to stay clear of the area.

Further project information and associated travel planning, business and tourism information is available at: www.udot.utah.gov/kanab89, by e-mailing us89@utah.gov, or by calling the project hotline at (800) 253-8946.