Talk about ambitious. The folks at Zion National Park are planning to do the first substantial rehabilitation of the Mount Carmel Highway in nearly 80 years, something that will not be an overnight job.
Indeed, right now the crystal ball envisions a two-year project, as the work would involve rehabilitating, restoring, and resurfacing approximately 9 miles of road from Canyon Junction to the East Entrance (excluding the Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel).
True, this isn't a massive project like the ongoing rehab of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park or that of the General's Highway in Sequoia National Park. But if you've ever driven the Mount Carmel Highway in Zion, you know about its switchbacks, steep grades, and the beautiful stonework performed by the CCC crews way back when.
As might be expected, time and traffic have taken a decided toll on the red asphalt highway and now it's time to address the deterioration. With that in mind, Zion officials are embarking on an environmental assessment to determine the best approach.
The proposed project is planned for two years. The first year would focus on the road from Canyon Junction to the west entrance into the tunnel and is proposed for fall 2009. The second year would complete the project from the east entrance to the tunnel to the east park boundary and is proposed for fall 2011.
The public will have two opportunities to comment on this project: first during scoping (now), and again following the release of the EA. Park officials currently are in the scoping phase of this project and invite you to submit your comments. If you wish to comment, you can do so at this site or you can mail comments to Zion National Park, Zion Mt. Carmel Road Rehabilitation, Springdale, UT 84767.
Comments are being accepted until December 11, 2008.
For more information on this proposed project contact Kezia Nielsen, Environmental Protection Specialist, at (435) 772-0211 or visit the NPS planning website.