Rehabilitating Yosemite's Tioga Road

a large rock on right and newly paved road
Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park. NPS Photo.
In FY 15, Federal Lands Transportation Program dollars went to improve the overall condition of Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park.

Project Overview

Over thirteen miles of Tioga Road at Yosemite National Park – from Crane Flat to White Wolf Campground – was rehabilitated to improve the overall condition of the road. The work included reducing excessive superelevations, drainage improvements, curb replacement, and paving along both the main roadway and associated parking areas and pullouts.
a map of the four phases of the tioga road rehab project
Project Map

Why was this project needed?

This road is a primary east-west scenic route across the Sierra Nevada with high traffic volume during the peak summer and fall seasons, providing access to Tuolumne Meadows, Tioga Pass, U.S. Route 395 and numerous popular trailheads including: John Muir, Pacific Crest, Yosemite Creek, Lukens Lake, and others beginning in Tuolumne Meadows. Rehabilitation of this scenic road was necessary to make safety improvements, while preserving natural and cultural resources along the road. This segment of the Tioga Road has not been fully repaved in over 40 years and has significantly deteriorated due to poor drainage and subsurface erosion. Visitor safety was improved by resurfacing, replacing failing culverts, making minor grade adjustments to steep cross slopes, and cleaning and restoring shoulders to their original width. The project considered methods to improve driving visibility along the roadway

The Process - Scoping

Public scoping for this project ocurred during February and March 2010. Issues and concerns identified during scoping are being utilized to develop up to three reasonable and feasible action alternatives, to be analyzed in detail in the Tioga Road Rehabilitation Environmental Assessment (EA). Following the public scoping period in the winter of 2010, public comments were analyzed.

In June 2010 an internal field review was conducted and it was determined that an additional section of roadway should be rehabilitated within this project. This proposed section is located east of Olmsted Point and extends to the east end of Tuolumne Meadows (indicated below for Phase 2). This additional section is located through the Tuolumne Meadows corridor and will solely address the resurfacing and repaving of the current road, and will not alter or affect roadside parking. Decisions made through the Tuolumne River Planning effort will determine what specific actions will be taken throughout the Tuolumne Meadows area.

The public review and comment period for the environmental assessment took place in the the spring 2011. Public site visits and meetings were held.

The National Park Service released an Environmental Assessment (EA) in August 2011 that presented the environmental impacts of leaving Tioga Road in its current condition (No Action Alternative) and of rehabilitating 27 miles of the Tioga Road to make safety improvements (Action Alternative). A Finding of No Significant Impact, documenting the Selected Action, was signed in October 2012. The Selected Action will implement the rehabilitation, restoration, and resurfacing of approximately 41 miles of the Tioga Road while protecting natural and cultural resource values.

It was determined that the selected action would:

  • Improve the safety of visitors and employees traveling on Tioga Road.

  • Maintain the character of the road corridor, including significant cultural landscape characteristics such as the curvilinear alignment, grade, and road features including culverts, retaining walls, and turnouts.

  • Restore drainage features to control erosion and to protect natural and cultural resources.

  • Increase accessibility for park visitors and reduce confusion regarding designated roadside turnouts.

  • Manage roadside parking and traffic flow through improved turnouts.

  • Reduce rockfall potential along Tioga Road by scaling rock at select locations.

  • Manage and improve the Tuolumne Grove parking area.