18-wheeler misses warnings, gets stuck in Zion Tunnel

A semitruck is stuck in Zion Tunnel, Springdale, Utah, Dec. 23, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

SPRINGDALE – A semitrailer entered the Zion Tunnel late Monday night without a traffic escort, and became wedged in the tunnel. At about 11:45 p.m. Monday, Zion National Park officials received a report that a semitruck was stuck in the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. The 18-wheeled semitruck was headed westbound when it became stuck approximately 600 feet from the tunnel’s west exit, according to a Park statement.

The driver was cited for operating the oversize vehicle in the tunnel without traffic control service. The park is investigating potential structural damage done to the historic tunnel.

Damage to Zion Tunnel caused by a semitruck, Springdale, Utah, Dec. 23, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News
Damage to Zion Tunnel caused by a semitruck, Springdale, Utah, Dec. 23, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

In fall and winter, the Zion Tunnel closes daily at 4:30 p.m. to all vehicles that are over 11 feet 4 inches in height or 7 feet 10 inches in width, because the traffic control service is not available.

Semitrucks, commercial vehicles, and rigs over 50 feet long are not allowed through the tunnel without the traffic control service.

Signs at both the Park entrance station and on Highway 9 near Mt. Carmel Junction warn motorists of the size restrictions and closure of the tunnel.

The driver stated that he was new to the area, that his GPS led him on the route, and that he followed another vehicle through the entrance station without noticing the signs, the statement said.

The driver was headed from Kanab to Las Vegas, Nevada, with an empty trailer to pick up a load bound for Dallas, Texas. Commercial vehicles that are not doing business within the park are not permitted to drive through the park because of the tunnel dimensions, tight turns to the tunnel’s approach, narrow lanes, and wildlife.

Zion Tunnel in Zion National Park, photo undated, Springdale, Utah, Undated |Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News
Zion Tunnel in Zion National Park, photo undated, Springdale, Utah, Undated |Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

The 1.1 mile tunnel is located on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and was opened in 1930 to make it easier for visitors to reach Zion Canyon from Bryce Canyon or the Grand Canyon.

At the time of its completion, it was the longest non-urban road tunnel in the United States. The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and its features were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

 

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15 Comments

  • freaks December 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Sounds like koolaide wasn’t paying attention again.

    • mesaman December 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      Hey, let sleeping dogs lie.

    • mesaman December 24, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      Let sleeping dogs lie.

  • Voice of Reason December 24, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    So, how did they get it out? Or is that part not important to the story?
    I would think it was important.

    • Steve December 25, 2014 at 12:08 am

      Of course this story is incomplete.

  • Andy December 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    We are lucky this goof ball didn’t kill someone in an oncoming vehicle while he was taking his half out of the middle.

  • koolaid December 24, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Gotta be a Dixie guy thinkin about his woman while driving his rig. Yeah, it’ll fit

  • Dan Lester December 24, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Fortunately not much traffic up there at midnight.

  • M and M cookies December 24, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    This is so stupid… there re plenty of signs, you can see when you enter the tunnel you won’t fit.. He should have put in h gps system.. Highway and not national parks. Abe he doesn,t know how to use gps.. Better go back to trucking school buddy..

  • You December 24, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    How did they get him out and how did he make the switchback turns west of the tunnel? Faster to use az 389 to Colorado city then to hurricane.

  • Burton December 24, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Really!!!??? I have had my commercial drivers license for decades, and every employee wants $15 and hour as minimum wage!? You should at least understand basic physics for $15 an hour! Or maybe he could just flip burgers for $15 an hour! (Big square truck don’t fit in small half pipe unless go real, real fast!)

  • Evil twins mommy December 24, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    The citation was justified in this case hopefully the damage is minimal. but at that time of night there isn’t alot of traffic

  • My Evil Twin December 24, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Well, another “super trucker” is looking for work now.

  • Marilyn December 24, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Please let us know how the truck was moved, and if there was much damage.

  • Tired December 25, 2014 at 12:03 am

    my guess is that they let air out of the tires to get it through

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