Grand Teton Transportation Plan Spurring Debate

How pedestrian and cyclist friendly should Grand Teton National Park be? That's the question as park officials wind down the public comment period on their preferred transportation plan. Cyclists and automobiles are not the most compatible in the park. Roads are narrow and windy, and motorists often draw their eyes off the road to the mountains. In recent years two cyclists have been killed in automobile collisions in the park.
Park officials want to give cyclists and pedestrians more protection by developing a network of multi-use paths and adding bike lanes to some sections of road. Some groups, most notably the National Park Conservation Association, don't think the park is going far enough.
Read on to see what's at stake.

Under the park's preferred alternative -- alternative 3 -- 23 miles of multi-use paths would be created in the park. Plus, another 16 miles of four-and-a-half-foot-wide bike lanes would be built from North Jenny Lake to Colter Bay Village. This alternative also calls for a pilot transportation system.
At the NPCA, officials want the park to get behind alternative 4, which, in addition to everything called for in alternative 3, would create seperate multi-use pathways along the full length of the Moose-Wilson Road. This road roams through rich wildlife habitat. There are bushes lush with berries that lure black bears, and beaver ponds that moose enjoy. The current road is very narrow, and in my mind there's a question as to whether it could be widened or a pathway installed parallel to it without infringing on environmentally sensitive lands.
In addition to those two alternatives, park officials say they also have several transit proposals they want to test along the Moose-Wilson Road. These range from making the road one-way and creating windows when only cyclists and hikers could use the road to implementing a public transit system.
What's the best solution? I'm not sure at this point, although both alternatives 3 and 4 would be a marked improvement over the current situation. However, alternative 4 would impact 4,100 -- yes, 4,100 -- more trees along the Moose-Wilson Road than alternative 3. The key question is whether the Moose-Wilson corridor can safely be expanded to allow for separate routes for motorists and bikers without impacting critical habitat.
The current public comment system runs until August 25. Check out the Grand Teton transportation plan and let park officials know which alternative you favor and why.

Comments

Hi Kurt, Great article! GTNP park management has some tough choices ahead of them in this transportation plan. For my two cents, transit has to play a central role in this plan. Separated pathways from the town of Jackson to Jenny Lake are also a must, while I think that the Park needs to decide which direction they're headed with the Moose-Wilson corridor (some say leave it alone, some say close it to traffic, others lie elsewhere) before they put paths in there. As it stands now that road is just too sensitive in my mind to add it into the pathways debate. As you and I recently discussed however, all of this pales in comparison to a very real threat facing Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The Department of Energy is fast-tracking a proposal to produce plutonium at the Idaho National Labratory (INL) 90 miles upwind of these national treasures. The following link might interest you. http://nytimes.com/2005/08/03/opinion/03broyles.html. Visit http://www.yellowstonenuclearfree.com for more background information as well. We must do all we can to stop this proposal and I encourage everyone who has a love of Yellowstone and GTNP to write the DOE at the following address to let them know that producing plutonium at INL is unacceptable. Comment period ends August 26, 2005. Write or call Timothy Frazier, EIS document manager, to tell him that their EIS is flawed and incomplete. Email: ConsolidationEIS@nuclear.energy.gov Phone: (800) 919-3706