Yosemite National Park Officials Decide To Repave Tioga Road End-To-End

An example of road damage along the Tioga Road. NPS photo.

One of the most spectacular rides in the High Sierra is along the Tioga Road that runs across the high country of Yosemite National Park, from Oak Flat to the Lee Vining just beyond the park's east entrance. That ride will become a little safer, and a little smoother, at the end of a multi-year repaving project.

Under the plan, just signed off on by park officials, roughly 41 miles of the two-lane road will get new pavement, shoulders that don't drop off dangerously, repaved turnouts for viewing points and trailheads, and better sightlines for motorists through removal of vegetation in places.

The road will be restored to feature two 10-foot-wide lanes, with one-foot-wide shoulders on each lane, and a rumble strip running along the centerline to alert you when you begin to drift. Where necessary, drainages will be improved, old culverts repaired or new culverts installed, and some slopes will be graded to minimize rockfalls onto the road surface.

To improve sightlines, where vegetation has grown up right to the edge of the road thinning will take place to improve visibility. Work also will be done to erase makeshift parking areas along road shoulders where visitors have left their cars to gain trail access or to walk out into the meadows or up onto the granite domes.

While road standards adopted by the National Park Service in 1984 call for lanes 11-to-12 feet wide with 2- to 4-foot shoulders, Yosemite officials decided that "these standards would not maintain the historic character of the road and thus this alternative was dismissed."

The approved plan does not provide for bicycle lanes, and no discussion of this option was contained in the planning documents.

Construction, which is scheduled to begin in Spring 2014, could lead to daytime motorist delays of up to 30 minutes Monday through Friday, and up to 60 minutes week nights, according to the planning documents. No construction delays are proposed for weekends or federal holidays.