Work to start on south entry improvements

Work is expected to begin this week on improvements to aid traffic flow and ease congestion at the park's South Entrance Station.

The project includes adding another entry lane for a kiosk, widening the road by 12 feet, restriping from the park boundary to the entrance and adding an independent bypass lane.

That lane will diverge from the highway between the park boundary and the park sign and will merge back onto the highway approximately 500 feet north of the gate.

An automated gate will also be constructed to facilitate the use of the bypass lane. This lane will be used for local traffic, commercial deliveries and shuttle bus and transit vehicles.

Fann Contracting of Prescott is doing the work. The company also has the contract for the Hermit Road restoration that also begins this month.

Most of the park's more than 4 million visitors enter through the South Entrance.

These improvements were originally considered in a larger planning effort for the upcoming South Rim Visitor Transportation Plan Environmental Assessment, expected to be released this month.

This project was separated from the larger plan in order to more quickly address crowding and safety issues that can occur during the high visitor use season, and to improve the experience of those entering the park through the South Entrance Station.

It expands on improvements that were made last year at the South Entrance and will be compatible with future transportation options.

Construction activities associated with widening the roadway and with construction of the bypass lane will include surveying, tree removal, earth work, implementation of basecourse and pavement surfacing, and striping.

All but the final paving is expected to be done by mid-May in time for the busy spring and summer seasons.

Final paving, which will complete the project, will wait until fall in an effort to reduce impacts to the visiting public and the local community.

Delays are expected to be minimal with all lanes remaining open and the entrance station operating in a normal capacity.

During construction, the existing lanes will narrow and some slowing of traffic may occur.

For information on this and other park projects, visit www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/newsreleases.htm or contact Vicky Stinson, Project Manager at 928-774-3026.

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