A plan to redesign traffic flows into Yellowstone National Park through its North Entrance has been given the green light by regional officials, although a firm timetable for the work to proceed is somewhat open-ended at this time.
The gateway long has been one of the park's most popular because of the Roosevelt Arch that greets visitors and reminds them that national parks exist "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."
But it's also become one of the most congested, both because of the orientation of Park Street with its hairpin turn, the many visitors who want to get out of their cars to snag a photo of the arch, and because of the mix of service vehicles with visitor traffic.
To alleviate that congestion, improve pedestrian safety, and improve Park Service facilities at the entrance, the park will move forward with a plan officials say will:
* Allow a new entrance station complex to be built to better facilitate entry into the park, allowing visitors the option of entering Yellowstone through the historic Roosevelt Arch or traveling over a new access road to bypass congestion.
* Expand parking areas and install crosswalks and walkways to protect pedestrians, improve traffic circulation, and allow better access to businesses along Park Street.
* Relocate the administrative road in front of the Gardiner Transportation Center to separate traffic from delivery vehicles and employee parking.
Improvements will be completed in phases during the early spring and late fall periods as funding becomes available to reduce the impact on day to day operations around the entrance.
Copies of the EA and the FONSI, along with several maps that illustrate details of the improvements are available on the National Park Service Planning, Environmental and Public Comment (PEPC) Web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/yell