Major Road Construction
In 2017, construction crews will work on the entire 26-mile road system in Arches National Park.
Plan on driving delays of up to 30 minutes.
We will update this page throughout 2017 with project information and schedules.
What to Expect
2017 Construction Schedule
These dates may change.
Expect major traffic congestion and limited parking on most holidays.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the 3R Project?
Q: Why is the park doing this construction during the busy season?
Q: Why is the road construction project impacting so much of the park?
Q: When can I visit the park?
Q: What happens if I don’t get out of the park by 7 pm?
Q: Why do you have to close the park at night?
Q: Can I walk, run or bike into the park after 7 pm?
Q: Will all roads in the park be open during the day?
Q: When will park roads and trails reopen?
Q: Will construction equipment be left on the roadway during the day and impact park vistas?
Q: When can I get into the park at night to look at the stars?
Q: Where else can I go to hike, stargaze, watch sunrise/sunset, etc.?
Q: Are Willow Springs Road, Salt Valley Road, and the Four-Wheel-Drive Road still open during the construction period?
Q: Can I camp in the park?
Q: Can I go backpacking in the park?
Q: How is the project being paid for and how much is it costing?
Q: How can I find out more about the road construction project?
Arches National Park “3R” Road Construction Project Overview
Prepared by John Lewis
Synopsis: The work of this project will reconstruct all paved roads and pullouts in Arches NP. Campground roads, housing roads, and parking lots are not typically part of this work, but additional funding has been secured to reconstruct the Devils Garden campground road, the residence road, and the maintenance yard parking area. The Arches 3R project is set to begin sometime in March of 2017 and be completed by November of 2017.
What is 3R: The 3Rs stands for resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation, and is a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) program for working on public land agencies roadways. One of the major 3R stipulations is that the majority of the project has to be within the existing roadway prism. The roadway prism is defined as the total cross-sectional width of the entire disturbance when the road was constructed. As an example this would be the width from the top of a cut to the bottom of a fill slope, and the construction is bound by these limits. There are exemptions for the work to be outside these limits, but almost all of the work at Arches will be within these limits.
Entrance Road Work – Timing: The contract allows the contractor to select night work or day work on the entrance road. The contractor will present their schedule for this area at a meeting is scheduled for March 6, 2017. The work on the entrance road will begin sometime after this meeting and is planned to be completed by Memorial Day weekend.
Entrance Road Work – Inbound 191 to Entrance Station: Since the entrance road is relatively new it was not scheduled to be included as part of this project, however the park is allowed to spend five percent of project funding on new construction. Due to the recent issues of traffic backing up onto Highway 191, the park has elected to use the new construction funding on rebuilding the entrance road. Both sides of the entrance road will be widened, and an additional lane will be added to the left side as you are entering the park. Once the lane is constructed, the road will be re-striped so there are two inbound lanes and one outbound lane. The additional inbound lane begins just after the ten minute parking area/Arches National Park sign and continues to the entrance station. The park is working on the possibility of extending this additional lane out to Highway 191, but this is outside the park boundary and there are issues that still need to be resolved for this to happen.
Entrance Road Work – Inbound Past the Entrance Station: The culvert that goes under the road just past the entrance station will be dug up and re-set at a slightly deeper depth to facilitate flow out to Bloody Mary Wash. There will be a roundabout added at the intersection of the main road and the maintenance road access (between the entrance station and visitor center) and a two car parallel pullout just past the roundabout.
Entrance Station, Maintenance, and Residential Area Work: The maintenance road that starts before the entrance station and runs parallel to the main road will be totally re-built to accommodate the number of large trucks that will bypass the entrance station; this includes replacing the low water crossings with box culverts. The maintenance shop parking area, the residence road, and employee housing pullouts along the maintenance road will all be re-constructed. This work will likely be completed during the same time frame as the entrance road work, March to May.
Mainline Work - Need: The existing roads were built in a couple of segments from 1957 to 1962. They were designed for approximately 75,000 visitors per year. Due to Arches visitation currently exceeding 1.5 million visitors annually, the roads are in need of upgrades to improve roughness, increase structural base, widen, and perform other peripheral work.
Mainline Work – Timing and Night Work Provision: Under the provisions of the environmental assessment (EA) for the project, the contractor is allowed to perform mainline work during the night. They are required to submit to the park for review, the type of lighting equipment they will be using for night work, and the contract requirement has an emphasis on insuring down lighting and minimizing light as much as possible while still maintaining worker safety. The contract allows work from 7pm until 7am, and includes a full park road closure at night during work. The contractor is allowed five work days and cannot work the weekends. The tentative schedule is to begin work on Sunday nights at 7pm and work each night through Thursday finishing up the work week on Friday at 7am. At 7am each workday the park road should be open and ready for use, except for those roads that are scheduled for longer term closures during the project. Due to this work occurring at night, and the need to have minimum temperatures for asphalt work, it is not anticipated that mainline work will start before mid-April, but the actual date will be at the discretion of the contractor.
Mainline Work – Process: FHWA has selected a process called “cold in-place recycling”. This process utilizes several large pieces of equipment that crushes up the existing two to three inch lift of asphalt and conveys it to a hopper where it is mixed with a binder and then relayed. This now becomes the engineered base, and then four inches of asphalt, placed in two lifts is added on top of the newly engineered base to construct the new finished surface. Because this process uses a large “train” of equipment it will not be used on the switch backs. The switchbacks will be reconstructed by pulverizing the existing asphalt in-place, adding water and compacting, and then adding a four inch lift of new asphalt. Mainline work will start at Devils Garden and proceed towards the entrance station, so that heavy construction equipment is not driving over the new roads.
Mainline Work – Pavement Width: The existing lane width of the main road varies from nine to ten feet. Fortunately the existing road prism can accommodate a wider running surface. The new typical lane width will be 11 feet with a one foot shoulder. So the new asphalt surface will be 24 feet wide.
Mainline Work – Longer Term Road Closures: To facilitate construction and expedite the completion of the project, certain roads were not deemed suitable for working on at night. The contract allows for the following maximum closure times but it is hoped that they will be shorter. It is expected the Devils Garden area will be closed for 35 calendar days, and during this time vehicles will be turned around at Sand Dune Arch parking lot. The Windows will be closed at the intersection of the main road for 35 calendar days. Fiery Furnace, Salt Valley Overlook, Panorama Point, and the LaSal Mountains Viewpoint will be closed for up to 28 days. The contractor is allowed to schedule when these closures will take place, but the park has to concur. The park will not allow the closure of Devils Garden and Windows to happen at the same time, but the rest of the schedule is open for discussion with the contractor.
Mainline Work – Peripheral Tasks: The work of this project will also formalize or eliminate many designated and undesignated pullouts along the paved roads. For those pullouts that will be formalized, the asphalt curbing will be replaced with colored concrete. Undesignated pullouts will be removed to prevent further off-road parking. At locations where there is asphalt curbing not associated with a pullout, the asphalt will generally be replaced in-kind. Work will also be performed on the Cottonwood Bridge by replacing the existing railing, and extending guardrails at both ends. These peripheral tasks, especially those requiring concrete work, will be completed during daytime hours resulting in closure of various pullouts during the day.
Campground Road: The campground road will be totally re-built during the initial phases of the mainline work. Once the campground road is rebuilt, the existing 30,000 gallon campground water tank will be demolished and re-built under another contract. Due to the scheduled night closure of the park, the campground will be closed from March 1st until the end of the 3R project in November.
Mainline Work – Delicate Arch Road: The work on the Delicate Arch road will be the same as the mainline work, however the work will stop at the Salt Valley Wash crossing (the first one you come to off the main road). The rest of the road will be rebuilt with the construction of low bridges over the three washes in a future project to hopefully be funded in the next five years.