Construction Projects

construction workers and a green backhoe at a construction site

NPS/Neal Herbert

 
 

Major Road Construction

In 2017, construction crews will work on the entire 26-mile road system in Arches National Park.

Plan on significant impacts to travel, hiking, and touring the park. The road will close to all traffic from 7 pm to 7 am when construction crews are working. Crews expect to be working Sunday through Thursday, with no nightly closures on Friday or Saturday.

We will update this page throughout 2017 with project information and schedules.

 
 

What to Expect

Day

  • Expect driving delays and road, trail, and area closures.
  • Trails including Devils Garden, Fiery Furnace, and The Windows could close for up to four weeks for each area.
  • Because the construction timeline is subject to frequent change, we cannot offer advance reservations for ranger-led Fiery Furnace hikes in 2017. Instead, we will sell all hike tickets in person at Arches Visitor Center.
  • All ranger programs schedules are subject to change.

Night

  • Most construction work will occur at night.
  • The park road will be closed from 7 pm to 7 am. All visitors must be out of the park by 7 pm.
  • At this time, construction crews plan to work on the road Sunday night through Thursday night, with no road closure Friday and Saturday nights.
 

2017 Construction Schedule

These dates may change.

  • February 21 - March 30: Road crews will be working on Salt Valley Road. There will be no closures, but you may experience delays.
  • March 1 - November 30: Devils Garden Campground closed.
  • March 13: Nightly closures begin. All paved roads close at 7 pm Sunday through Thursday.
  • March 27: Expect daytime driving delays beginning March 27.
  • April 24 - May 26: Devils Garden road, parking lot, and trails closed day and night. Vehicles turn around at Sand Dune Arch trailhead parking.
 

News Releases

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: What is the 3R Project?
    A: The 3R project (resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation) will reconstruct all paved roads and pullouts in Arches National Park. It will take place from March through November 2017.

    Q: Why is the park doing this construction during the busy season?
    A: This project will take about nine months to complete, and since temperatures must be warm in order to lay asphalt, the work must be done during the warmest months of the year.

    Q: Why is the road construction project impacting so much of the park?
    A: The existing park roads were built from 1957 to 1962 and designed for approximately 75,000 visitors per year. Arches National Park’s visitation exceeded 1.5 million in 2016, so the roads and pullouts are in need of upgrades to accommodate this dramatic increase in use.

    Q: When can I visit the park?
    A: At this time, the park will be open during the day from 7 am to 7 pm, seven days a week. Currently, the park will also remain open weekends from 7 am Friday until 7 pm Sunday.

    Q: What happens if I don’t get out of the park by 7 pm?
    A: Due to very large construction vehicles traveling the narrow park road, visitors need to be out of the park by 7 pm to maximize visitor and contractor safety. Park rangers will be reminding visitors of this requirement throughout the day at the park entrance station and visitor center, through signage, social media, the park's website, and the park radio channel (1610 AM). Unattended vehicles in parking areas or along roadsides after 7 pm may be impounded and towed out of the park at the owner's expense. Vehicles still traveling through the park after 7 pm may be issued violation notices.

    Q: Why do you have to close the park at night?
    A: Night time closure of the park road will minimize negative impacts to your enjoyment of the park during the day, and maximize the safety of visitors and construction workers.

    Q: Can I walk, run or bike into the park after 7 pm?
    A: No, the road will be closed to all use including by vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles at 7 pm.

    Q: Will all roads in the park be open during the day?
    A: No, you may encounter limited daytime road closures in addition to night time work. When partial, daytime road closures are in effect, crews will limit traffic delays to 30 minutes or less per work zone.

    Q: What areas of the park might be closed during the day?
    A: Some areas of the park may require full road and area closures, such as at Devils Garden, Fiery Furnace and The Windows. Area closures may be up to four weeks long for each area. The park may also close trails in those areas in order to maximize staff and visitor safety.

    Q: When will park roads and trails reopen?
    A: The park will reopen roads and trails once area construction work is completed.

    Q: Will construction equipment be left on the roadway during the day and impact park vistas?
    A: Construction equipment will be visible depending upon your location in the park.

    Q: When can I get into the park at night to look at the stars?
    A: The information we have at this time indicates the park will be open Friday and Saturday nights.

    Q: Where else can I go to hike, stargaze, watch sunrise/sunset, etc.?
    A: You can find a wide variety of spectacular scenery, hikes, and dark night skies on other public lands around the region. Rangers at the visitor center can provide suggestions, or you can visit the Moab Information Center in downtown Moab.

    Q: Are Willow Springs Road, Salt Valley Road, and the Four-Wheel-Drive Road still open during the construction period?
    A: These roads are not part of the road construction project. However, they will be closed at the main park road from 7 pm until 7 am but open at all other times from their opposite ends.

    Q: Can I camp in the park?
    A: No, the Devils Garden Campground will be closed from March 1 through November 30, 2017.

    Q: Can I go backpacking in the park?
    A: We plan to have a limited number of backcountry sites/permits available this spring season after we have more information about the road project schedule. You will only be able to reach these sites from outside the park or by being dropped off at trailheads so vehicles are not left overnight in the park during the night time closure. We will provide more information when it is available.

    Q: Can I go to the Fiery Furnace? Will you offer ranger-led hikes this summer?
    A: A limited number of permits are available for the Fiery Furnace. However, construction will close the area for up to a month. We will offer ranger-led hikes when the area is open and as staffing allows. We will sell all Fiery Furnace permits and tickets in person at Arches Visitor Center, first-come, first-served. You may purchase tickets up to seven days in advance.

    Q: What if I’m late for my ranger-guided Fiery Furnace hike due to traffic delays?
    A: You will need to allow more travel time in order to arrive at the Fiery Furnace trailhead by the advertised hike time. Park rangers must start this hike on time. Any ticket holders who arrive at the Fiery Furnace trailhead after the hiking group has left the parking lot cannot enter the Fiery Furnace on their own. Rangers at the visitor center will do their best to reschedule your hike or refund your ticket.

    Q: Do you have a schedule of the road work and when certain areas of the park will be closed?
    A: We expect a preliminary construction schedule by mid-March. It will be posted on this webpage. Given the many variables that can impact road projects of this type and scope, the schedule may change.

    Q: How is the project being paid for and how much is it costing?
    A: The Federal Highways Administration is paying for the project with gas taxes. The estimated cost of the project is around $16 million.

    Q: How can I find out more about the road construction project?
    A: We will post the latest road construction information and available updates on this webpage and Facebook page as they become available.

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    Project Details

    Arches National Park “3R” Road Construction Project Overview

    Prepared by John Lewis
    Chief of Facility Management
    Arches and Canyonlands national parks
    02/22/17

    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.

    Contact the Park

    Mailing Address:

    PO Box 907
    Moab, UT 84532

    Phone:

    (435) 719-2299

    Contact Us