Deadline nears for traffic plan public comment

One week remains to provide input on the alternatives put forth in the environmental assessment for the South Rim Visitor Transportation Plan. Next Wednesday is the deadline for comments.

The concept to address park traffic problems with local funding was conceived about two years ago and included in the park's transportation plan to Congress as "Option A" alongside six more costly options requiring large capital appropriations. Implementing one of the proposed alternatives doesn't preclude adopting one of the original options, which include a light rail proposal.

The project will be funded with entrance fee money.

Following public scoping last spring, three alternatives have been developed to address long lines at the gate, and traffic congestion and safety issues within the park.

The park has released a newsletter which outlines and illustrates the three plans. All of the plans call for South Entrance Road to be rerouted to CVIP and the Mather Point area restored to foot traffic only. Participation would be voluntary regardless of the alternative chosen. A summary:

Tusayan-Centered plan

• Most facilities would be outside the park, on Forest Service land north of Tusayan, including parking for 800-850 vehicles.

• Shuttle bus service would run from Tusayan to Canyon View Information Plaza with minor changes to South Rim shuttle routes.

• Tour bus drop-offs would be limited to Bright Angel Lodge and advanced wayfinding for the buses would be added.

• Adds 40-50 parking spaces at Lot D, south of the depot tracks and 300-350 parking spaces at CVIP.

• A bypass road would be created west of the entrance station, between Route 64 and Long Jim Canyon, for incoming buses and residents and all outgoing traffic.

• Expand the South Entrance Road to two lanes and expand the station to four or five entry lanes.

• This alternative would be the most effective in reducing traffic within the park, cutting traffic at the gate by up to 45 percent.

Park-Centered plan:

• Facilities would be concentrated around CVIP, with the addition of 1,050-1,150 parking spaces.

• Adds a new inbound lane east of the Entrance Station, creating two inbound and up to four or five entry lanes.

• Tour bus drop-offs would be limited to Bright Angel Lodge.

• It would add about 20 parking spaces in Lot E, near the Backcountry Office.

• Would not reduce traffic in the park but would maximize use of CVIP as a starting point and enhance wayfinding.

Mixed Alternative:

• Could use either South Entrance Station modification from the other two alternatives.

• Includes a shuttle transfer station south of the park with 480-520 parking spaces.

• Adds 500-550 parking spaces at CVIP.

• The shuttle bus into the park would be activated only as needed, during busy spells and peak season.

• Tour bus drop-offs would be limited to Bright Angel Lodge with enhanced wayfinding for tour buses.

• It would add about 20 parking spaces in Lot E, near the Backcountry Office.

A copy of the Newsletter, background information and a summary of public comments received during the public scoping process and NPS responses are available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grca.

You can submit comments at the park Web site or by writing to: Superintendent, Grand Canyon National Park, Attn: Office of Planning and Compliance, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, Ariz., 86023.

The next round of public scoping is expected next spring.

For more information, contact Project Manager Vicky Stinson at 928-774-3026.

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