Construction is set to begin on a bridge and tunnel preservation project Saturday, April 3rd with an anticipated completion date of August 28th in Zion National Park.
During an inspection in 2017, the bridges and tunnels along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway were considered safe, but it was noted that future attention would be needed to help avoid any major rehabilitation needed and to increase the service life of the road.
In a press release released by the town of Springdale, it was stated that the main goals of these renovations include general maintenance, historic preservation, and offers an opportunity for the Park and city to update traffic safety devices.
Construction on the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, including the highway, is set to begin this Sunday, April 4, at 7 p.m. MDT and will continue for roughly 50 consecutive days. According to the press release, visitors to the area can expect the following construction schedule to be implemented:
- Sunday through Thursday work will begin at 7 p.m. and run until 5 a.m. the following morning.
- No construction is scheduled to occur over the weekends from Friday 5 a.m. to Sunday 10 p.m.
During the duration of the weekly scheduled construction, tunnel hours for oversized vehicles will end at 7 p.m. One-way traffic will be controlled from 7-10 p.m. A full closure to all vehicle traffic will be implemented in the tunnels Sunday through Friday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
In order to help accommodate the anticipated increase in seasonal traffic, operation hours for oversized vehicles will change to and ending time of 8 p.m. beginning April 23rd.
Proceeding with construction and full closures at night is anticipated to decrease traffic congestion, reduce visitor impacts, as well as facilitate safe and efficient working environment for the construction crew.
Construction is set to take place during normal business hours along the North Fork Virgin River Bridge and the East Portal Bridge. Those visiting within the area should anticipate minor delays. One lane travel will be provided during the construction period on the bridges.
History of Construction in Zion
In the late 1920s, construction of the 1.1 mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel began, reaching its completion in 1930. The tunnel was dedicated on July 4, 1930, and at the time was the longest tunnel of its type in the United State. The reasoning behind the construction of the tunnel and highway was to help create direct access to Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon from Zion National Park.
Today the tunnel remains basically the same as it was upon completion over eighty yeas ago. The preservation project that is set to begin, will help improve the safety of the bridges and tunnels within the park.