South Entrance Road project gets approval

A plan for improvements to Highway 64 and the South Entrance Road from Tusayan to the park entrance station was approved last week with the signing of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

Actions under the preferred alternative include construction of up to two additional northbound of about a mile long and construction of a half-mile independent bypass lane. Work is expected to start next March and end around November.

These improvements are expected to address traffic and safety issues that can occur during the high visitor use season, as well as to improve the experience of those entering the park through the South Entrance. Although some improvements have recently been implemented, additional improvements are planned to further improve conditions.

The improvements in the preferred alternative were considered in a larger planning effort for the upcoming South Rim Visitor Transportation Plan Environmental Assessment (Transportation Plan) expected to be released this fall. This project was separated from the larger plan to expedite implementation and address visitor experience and safety concerns.

Although this project would precede the finalization of the Transportation Plan, it would ensure compatibility with future transportation options.

In July, the Park Service prepared an Environmental Assessment/Assessment of Effect (EA/AEF) for the South Entrance Road Improvements. This EA/AEF, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, analyzed the impacts that will likely result from implementation of the project.

Construction is anticipated to begin as early as next March and run through November. Construction activities related to the road widening will occur outside of peak visitation times whenever possible. Traffic congestion and slowing will occur during this period and the park will make efforts to minimize the impact of construction.

Those interested in viewing the FONSI, may do so on the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment Web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grca. For more information, contact Project Compliance Lead Rachel Stanton at 928-774-9612 or Project Manager Vicky Stinson at 928-774-3026.

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