Bridge and tunnel construction to begin Sunday at Zion National Park

Undated photo of the sign at the east entrance of Zion National Park, Utah | File photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Construction for the bridge and tunnel preservation project will begin Sunday night with anticipated completion on Aug. 28 in Zion National Park.

Springdale entrance of Zion National Park. Zion National Park, Utah, Feb. 22, 2020 | Photo by David Louis, St. George News

In 2017, bridges and tunnels along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway were inspected and are considered safe, but attention is recommended to increase service life and avoid major rehabilitation needs, according to a press release issued by the town of Springdale.

The main goals of this project include general maintenance, historic preservation and updating traffic safety devices. 

Construction is scheduled to begin on the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel (and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway) this Sunday at 7 p.m. MDT and will continue for 50 consecutive days. According to the release, the weekly construction schedule is as follows: Sunday through Thursday work will begin at 7 p.m. and run until 5 a.m. the following morning. No construction is scheduled to occur over the weekends from Friday 5 a.m. to Sunday 10 p.m. 

During the weekly construction schedule, tunnel hours for oversized vehicle operations will end at 7 p.m. One-way traffic control will be provided from 7-10 p.m. A full closure to all vehicle traffic will be implemented in the tunnels Sunday through Friday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. To accommodate anticipated seasonal increases in visitor traffic, oversized vehicle operation hours will change to end at 8 p.m. beginning April 23.   

The historic Zion Tunnel was carved through solid sandstone in the 1920s, Zion National Park, Utah, photo undated | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park Foundation, St. George News

Proceeding with construction and full closures at night is anticipated to decrease traffic congestion, reduce visitor impacts, as well as facilitate safe and efficient working environment for the construction crew.  

Strategic vehicle closures will also help reduce impacts from artificial light intrusion on night skies and wildlife.  

Construction on the North Fork Virgin River Bridge and East Portal Bridge will occur during normal business hours so visitors should anticipate minor delays. One lane of vehicle travel will be provided throughout the construction period on the bridges. 

Construction of the 1.1 mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel began in the late 1920’s and was completed in 1930. At the time that the tunnel was dedicated, on July 4, 1930, it was the longest tunnel of its type in the United States. The purpose of building the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel (and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway) was to create direct access to Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from Zion National Park.

Today the tunnel is basically the same as it was upon its completion over eighty years ago. This preservation project will improve the safety of the bridges and tunnels in Zion National Park. 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!