As tunnel project in Zion ends, bridge construction begins; visitors should expect delays

In this June 2020 file photo, cars and recreational vehicles wait in line near the Zion Lodge to access the upper portion of Zion National Park's Scenic Drive, Zion National Park, Utah, June 25, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Zion National Park announced Tuesday that construction is scheduled to end on the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel on Friday at 5 a.m. MDT.

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

Construction for the bridge and tunnel preservation project started in April 2021, the news release states. 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. The main goals of this project include general maintenance, historic preservation and updating traffic safety devices.

Construction on the North Fork Virgin River Bridge, also referred to as the Canyon Junction Bridge, begins Tuesday. This construction will occur during normal business hours so visitors should anticipate minor traffic delays. One lane of vehicle travel will be provided throughout the construction period on the bridge. 

The Switchback Repair Project on the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway west of the tunnels started Sunday. This project construction occurs from 8 p.m. to approximately 6 a.m. MDT. Starting next week visitors should anticipate one-way traffic in this area of the park. Proceeding with construction at night is anticipated to decrease traffic congestion, reduce visitor impacts, as well as facilitate safe and efficient working environment for the construction crew. 

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 80 years ago. The news release says 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.

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