Rockfall is cleared, Zion-Mount Carmel Highway reopens

Heavy equipment is used to break apart large boulders from a rockfall on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, which closed the east side of Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, Sept. 24, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

SPRINGDALE – The rockfall that closed off the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway through Zion National Park earlier this week has been cleared, allowing park officials to reopen the road Saturday.

Heavy equipment being used to break apart large boulders from a rockfall on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway that closed the east side of Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, Sept. 24, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News
Heavy equipment is used to break apart large boulders from a rockfall on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, which closed the east side of Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, Sept. 24, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

Hundreds of tons of rock crashed down onto the highway Wednesday morning around 4:30 a.m., approximately 200 feet from the Pine Creek Bridge on the first switchback leading up to the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel.

The rockfall primary consisted of two large boulders, estimated to weigh 100 and 200 tons respectively. The boulders were broken into smaller pieces by heavy equipment.

Work was also done to mitigate the potential threat of additional rockfall from the cliff the boulders had fallen from.

Additional rock from the cliff was removed with the aid of a specialized blasting firm, park officials said in a press release Saturday.

Once blasting and cleanup operations concluded and the road was checked for any possible damage, park officials reopened the highway Saturday afternoon.

“We want to thank all the people who have been affected by the road closure for their patience as we tried to get the road reopened as soon as it was safe to do so,” Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said. “The safety of the visiting public and our staff is of the (utmost) importance to us.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

 

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