If you've driven the Tioga Road through the high country of Yosemite National Park recently, you likely have noticed some of the crumbling pavement, the thick vegetation that at times can make sight lines poor for motorists, and trailhead pullouts that have overgrown their footprint.
Yosemite officials have noticed those issues, too, and more, and are developing a plan for performing the most substantial rehabilitation work along the road in four decades.
According to park officials, "(T)he existing road shoulders and road surface have deteriorated beyond minor repair due to poor drainage and subsurface erosion. Many areas of this road are unsafe due to the limited site distance and poor condition of the road surface. Some culverts are in poor condition, and others are undersized and/or poorly located. Roadside parking is for the most part informal resulting in steadily increasing turnout numbers and size as well as resource damage."
Currently open for public comment, through September 8, is the park's Tioga Road Rehabilitation Environmental Assessment. This document addresses the rehabilitation of approximately 41 miles of the Tioga Road, which is the only route that traverses the park from east to west. The project addresses aging and deteriorated pavement and drainage features, as well as existing public safety concerns and natural resource impacts.
The following goals guided development of alternatives for the proposed Tioga Road rehabilitation:
- Improve the safety of visitors and employees traveling on Tioga Road.
- Maintain the character of the road corridor, including significant cultural
landscape characteristics such as the curvilinear alignment, grade, and
road features including culverts, retaining walls, and turnouts.
- Restore drainage features to control erosion and to protect natural and cultural resources.
- Increase accessibility for park visitors and reduce confusion regarding designated roadside turnouts.
- Manage roadside parking and traffic flow through improved turnouts.
- Reduce rockfall potential along Tioga Road by scaling rock at select locations.
- Manage and improve the Tuolumne Grove parking area.
Park officials plan to post a copy of the EA at this site, and you can also leave your comments there. Comments may also be submitted via mail to: Superintendent, Yosemite National Park, Attn: The Tioga Road Rehabilitation Plan, PO Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389.
Park officials plan to hold a site visit on August 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to discuss the planning effort.
Visitors wishing to attend the site visit should meet at the large turnout west of White Wolf along the Tioga Road (Highway 120). This is an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the Tioga Road Rehabilitation Project. Visitors are urged to ask questions and provide comment regarding the planning effort. Visitors should plan to wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing, and bring water and lunch.
The public also is invited to discuss the plan with park staff on Wednesday, August 31, at the park’s Open House at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center Auditorium in Yosemite Valley from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Printed and CD copies of the plan will be available at the Open House.