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home : opinions : columns February 6, 2016

1/15/2013 11:54:00 AM
Guest column: Apologies from Park superintendent for delays in reopening of roads
Dave Uberuaga
Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent

Dear Grand Canyon staff, partners, concessioners and residents,

As you know, during the holidays, Desert View Drive and Hermit Road were closed for six days negatively impacting holiday plans, local area commutes, visitor access and the ability to make important deliveries and to offer a full range of visitor services. Many of you took the time to make me and other NPS staff aware of this problem; and I wanted to thank you.

I also wanted to let you know that on Monday, Jan. 7, key park staff met to determine what prevented the roads from opening sooner, and how we could address those concerns. They explored a variety of factors, which may have contributed to the prolonged closure, including decreases in funded positions, increases in regulation of the hours worked by large equipment operators, and holiday staffing levels. In the end, however, it was determined that the key factors that delayed re-opening of the roads were breakdowns in existing procedure and internal communications. For this, you have my sincere apologies.

In addition to exploring why re-opening of these roads was delayed, this work group was tasked with developing suggestions for ensuring that future road closures are limited to 24 hours or less if at all possible. We plan to implement pre- and post-season reviews of how snow removal and road closures will work for the upcoming season and how these operations can be improved for the next season. We are looking into better equipment, exploring increased use of de-icer, and considering opening roads with restrictions as an alternative to leaving them closed. Most importantly, we will be working to improve the flow of information from those who make decisions about road conditions and closures to park staff, concessioners, partners and the local community.

As a part of that improved communication flow, we have already created a direct-dial road information line at (928) 638-7496. This recorded information can be reached from anywhere in the country without going through a phone tree and will be updated as conditions change. If there are no changes, it will be updated daily.

If you have additional concerns or suggestions, or if something like this should happen in the future, please don't hesitate to call my office at (928) 638-7945. This is our community; and I welcome your feedback on how we can make it a better place to live for all of us.

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