SPRINGDALE – The historic Zion Tunnel is in need of repair and Zion National Park is seeking the public’s help to win a $191,000 grant by voting for the project online.
This is a unique opportunity for Zion enthusiasts to show their support, Zion National Park Foundation executive director Lyman Hafen said in a press statement.
“You can vote every day until July 5, and every vote for Zion helps secure this significant grant that will ensure the future viability of the iconic Zion Tunnel,” Hafen said.
The Zion Tunnel project is competing with 19 other national park projects ranging from Alaska to Puerto Rico for $2 million in grants offered through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Zion National Park press statement said.
Zion’s project is the maintenance and preservation of the historic 1.1-mile Zion Tunnel, including repair of the sandstone masonry and interior surfaces.
The effort is part of Partners in Preservation: National Parks sponsored by National Geographic and American Express. Online voting will determine which of the 20 grant proposals will be funded.
The voting began on May 25 and continues through July 5 at VoteYourPark.org.
Supporters may vote once a day for five parks of their choice; as of Tuesday, the Zion Tunnel project was ranked fifth in total votes.
“The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway is truly an engineering wonder — and an amazing and memorable experience to drive,” Hafen said. “Constructed in 1927-30, this improbable road blended built features and the natural landscapes in a way that highlighted Zion’s spectacular beauty.”
Residents and fans of Zion National Park can show support for the park and the project by voting for Zion daily now through July 5 at VoteYourPark.org/zion. More information is available at ZionPark.org.
“The Zion community is excited to show the world how we feel about our park,” Zion Park spokeswoman Jill Burt said in a press statement, “and we believe that it is worthy of consideration among America’s biggest and most popular parks such as Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Yosemite.”
The Zion National Park Foundation will host an open house Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Zion National Park Visitor Center to share information about the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel Preservation Project and encourage Zion supporters to vote.
Representatives of the Zion National Park Foundation and the Park Service will be on hand to share information about the project.
History of the Zion Tunnel
Construction on the Zion Tunnel began in 1927 and took three years to complete, according to the Washington County Historical Society.
Engineers used mining techniques rather than traditional tunnel-building methods and was considered an engineering marvel. The tunnel was the longest non-urban road tunnel in the United States at the time it was built.
A sandstone pillar collapsed in 1958 and dropped tons of debris into the tunnel, closing it for several weeks. The tunnel is now monitored electronically.
The tunnel remains essentially the same today as when it was completed with the exception of concrete ribs which now reinforce the soft sandstone throughout the length of the tunnel, the Historical Society states.
The Zion-Mount Carmel Road and Zion Tunnel were dedicated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark on May 18, 2012.
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