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WORK BEGINS ON OVERLOOKS AND IMPROVEMENTS ALONG ALL 120 MILES OF SCENIC S. UTAH HIGHWAY

SHARE WORK BEGINS ON OVERLOOKS AND IMPROVEMENTS ALONG ALL 120 MILES OF SCENIC S. UTAH HIGHWAY

After rebidding a project involving construction of 14 new overlooks on scenic U-12 in southern Utah, that part of an even more extensive construction program is now under way.

The initial low bidder was Brown Brothers Construction of Loa, Wayne County, bidding $594,832. But that was considerably above the engineer's estimate of just over $400,000 so the Utah Department of Transportation called for rebidding, according to Rex Friant, regional project engineer at Richfield.The second time around, Clark Lamb and Sons of Orderville, Kane County, won the contract with a bid of $285,034.

"Because the last bid was less that the engineer's estimate, we were able to include a Forest Service visitor center in Red Canyon that had initially been pulled from the project," he said. The project is using federal funding that comes through UDOT.

Planning for the overall highway program along one of the most scenic highways in Utah has involved state and federal agencies and travel councils in two counties. An 18-member committee representing the organizations has been involved in planning for the past 18 months.

The Dixie National Forest is particularly playing a key role in developments along the byway. A federal grant of nearly $600,000 was received from the Federal Highway Administration in 1992, according to Mark Van Every, Dixie Forest public relations officer.

Additional sources have swelled funding to about $750,000, he said.

Along with new turnouts, small existing ones will be improved. The overall program of turnout construction, the visitor center, trailhead parking and interpretive signing is expected to be completed by midsummer.

Interpretive signs will be erected along the entire 120 miles of the highway, between U.S. 89 seven miles southeast of Panguitch and U-24 at Torrey in Wayne County. It connects Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks and passes by the Anasazi State Park in Boulder and the Petrified Forest State Park in Escalante, Garfield County.

Officials said five trailhead signs and two interpretive kiosks are being built. Other parts of the program include developing interpretive guides, such as a handout map, a video than can be used at the site or purchased and a self-guiding audio tape for U-12 travelers.

Van Every said signs will orient visitors at various locations and provide historical and interpretive information. He foresees that turnouts and information at lesser known sites will help alleviate overcrowding in extremely popular places along the route.

Friant said four new turnouts are planned in Red Canyon between U.S. 89 and Bryce Canyon National Park. Others will be about one mile west of the Bryce Canyon turnoff; Blues Overlook, 19 miles west of Escalante; and at the intersection with the road leading to Hole in the Rock, about five miles southeast of Escalante.

Also, Top of the Rock Overlook, 10 miles northeast of Escalante; Hogs Back, east of Calf Creek and south of Boulder; Boulder Overlook, two miles southwest of the community; Escalante River Overlook, between the Top of the Rocks and Hogs Back; near the Garkane Power Association parking area about six miles north of Boulder; and a parking lot at the Pleasant Creek Trail Head near the Wildcat Guard Station on the east side of Boulder Mountain.