Zion National Park Seeking Input To Improve Mt. Carmel Road Safety
Zion National Park authorities have initiated discussions with local stakeholders, officials, and residents regarding proposed operational changes to the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway aimed at enhancing safety and reducing risks associated with large vehicles. Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh emphasizes the importance of collaboration to address safety concerns while preserving the historic road's integrity.
“We want to collaborate with members of our community to address these safety and operational concerns,” Bradybaugh said in a press release. “We need to work together to protect drivers, meet safety parameters and ensure the integrity of the road and tunnels so that we continue to enjoy scenic drives on the historic Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway.”
Concerns primarily focus on collision risks, overweight transits on road bridges, and lane-crossing due to oversized vehicles negotiating turns. Studies reveal that unregulated travel by large vehicles poses safety hazards, with instances of buses crossing the centerline in 18 locations where turning radius limits are exceeded.
Additionally, weight restrictions are in place for multiple bridges along the route, and the Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel imposes size limitations, reflecting the challenges posed by the historic road's design. Originally constructed in the 1920s and '30s, the road features tight turns, steep grades, and narrow lanes, making it incompatible with modern larger vehicles.
Expansion or significant alteration of the historic road is deemed impractical due to terrain constraints and environmental concerns. Instead, collaborative efforts aim to devise solutions that enhance driving conditions while preserving the road's historical and natural integrity.
Given the road's designation as a National Historic Landmark and its significance as a Civil Engineering Landmark, balancing safety requirements with preservation efforts is crucial. Through community engagement and stakeholder input, Zion National Park seeks to implement measures that mitigate collision risks and structural damage while respecting the road's historic and environmental significance.