Road Construction

Traffic Delays on the Generals Highway


Reconstruction on the Generals Highway, the main park road, is causing road delays in Sequoia National Park between Hospital Rock Picnic Area in the foothills and the Giant Forest sequoia grove. Traffic is held at Amphitheater Point Overlook at the lower end and Crystal Cave Road near the upper end (the work itself is from Deer Ridge to the Eleven Range Overlook). For tips on minimizing the waiting time to pass through construction, see the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Soon, vehicles longer than 22 feet will be prohibited on this stretch of road between Hospital Rock and the Giant Forest. Vehicles longer than 22 feet are never recommended on this section, but shortly after the July 4th holiday that is expected to change to a restriction due to increased construction activity. Hwy 180, the northern entrance to these parks, is the preferred route for these longer vehicles.

On weekdays from 7:00 am-5:00 pm

Expect delays of up to 1 hour through noon on June 30. After the delay, uphill traffic passes first, followed by downhill traffic. See Holidays, below, regarding the Independence Day weekend. Starting June 5, consistent 1-hour delays are expected from 7:00 am-8:00 pm Monday through Thursday, and 7:00 am-5:00 pm on Fridays, with traffic passing through the construction zone on the hour.

On weeknights from 9:00 pm Sunday through 5:00 am Friday

Nighttime delays are not expected to start for another few weeks. When they do, both lanes will close for 8 hours, one pass-through at 11:30 pm, uphill traffic first. Once nighttime delays are necessary, this page will be updated with that information up to two weeks in advance.

Other hours and on weekends

No delays when both lanes are open. When highway is limited to one lane, expect delays up to 20 minutes. Traffic lights will control traffic, uphill traffic first.

Holidays

There will be no roadwork on July 4th weekend noon Friday until 7:00 am Tuesday. Traffic may be controlled by traffic lights, with uphill traffic passing through first.
 
A map showing the Generals Highway construction zone
 

Details of the Generals Highway Construction Project

The Generals Highway was completed in 1935 and is the primary artery through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, in Tulare County, California. The Generals Highway is a narrow, winding road that was not designed or constructed for travel by the larger vehicles that are in use today. Since its original construction, the Generals Highway has needed periodic repairs to address structural deficiencies and normal wear that have led to deterioration of the highway. However, in 1993, the design and reconstruction of the entire 28-mile Generals Highway began. Reconstruction was needed because the Generals Highway was in poor condition with several failures, had short sight distances, several drainage issues, and did not meet Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) design standards.

To date, reconstruction has been completed between the south park entrance (at Hwy 198) and Deer Ridge. The portion of the Generals Highway Construction Project beginning in 2017 will be completed in 2 phases:

  • Phase 1 consists of approximately 1 mile of the Generals Highway from Deer Ridge to Eleven Range Overlook (between Amphitheater Point Overlook and Crystal Cave Road). The work is extensive: reconstruct the road to widen narrow sections, construct new or rehabilitate existing retaining walls, improve drainage, construct new pullouts, and make other improvements.
  • Phase 2 includes repaving Wolverton Road from its intersection with the Generals Highway to the Wolverton Picnic Area and Trailhead parking lot. The entire project will require two construction seasons (2017 and 2018) to complete.
The intent of the Generals Highway Construction Project is to correct structural and drainage deficiencies that could lead to major road failure and that jeopardize the integrity of the road and safety of visitors. In addition, the proposed improvements are intended to provide a pleasant driving experience, improve traffic flow, facilitate maintenance operations, and reduce maintenance costs.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about the Generals Highway Construction Project

What is the goal of this project?

The Generals Highway Construction Project will reconstruct the portion of the Generals Highway between Deer Ridge and Eleven Range (which lies between Amphitheater Point and Crystal Cave Road). It will also repave the Wolverton Road. Construction is anticipated for two construction seasons (2017 and 2018). Please refer to the project details starting at the top of this page for more information.

What is the schedule for the project? When will it be completed?

A preliminary schedule (below) was issued in June, 2017, but given the many variables that can affect projects of this type and scope, the schedule may need to be adjusted. Currently, the project is scheduled for completion before winter 2018-19.

The following 2017 schedule is approximate and is subject to change:

  • June 14 – June 30: Surveying and pre-work, Monday through Friday 7am-5pm; expect delays.

  • July 1 – July 4: No work, no delays related to construction.

  • July 5 – November: Reconstruction, Monday through Friday 5am-8pm (5pm on Fridays); expect delays.

  • December 16, 2017 to spring 2018: Winter shut down. No work, no delays related to construction.

Why is there road construction during the busy season?

Winter conditions within the project area include snow, ice, rockfall, and rain. The extensive ground work required cannot be completed under these conditions. Also, since temperatures must be warm in order to lay asphalt, paving work must be done during the warmest months of the year, typically April through October (the construction season in these mountains).

How long do I have to wait?

See the delay schedule at the very top of this page for more details.
Remember, the construction delays only affect people traveling in Sequoia National Park between the Giant Forest sequoia grove and the park entrance on Hwy 198 (not in Kings Canyon National Park or on Hwy 180).


What can I do to minimize traffic delays?

Once you understand the schedule of delays (at the top of this page), you can plan your departure from different locations in order to arrive at the contruction zone not long before traffic is permitted to pass. For example, if you are at the Foothills Visitor Center, leave there at least 35 minutes before the hour in order to get through the construction zone on the hour.
Driving uphill from:
  • Foothills Visitor Center to the construction zone - 35 minutes (11 miles)
  • Hospital Rock Picnic Area to the construction zone - 15 minutes (7 miles)
Driving downhill from:
  • Giant Forest Museum to construction zone - 10 minutes (3 miles)
  • Lodgepole Village to construction zone - 20 minutes (7.5 miles)
  • Wuksachi Lodge to construction zone - 25 minutes (9.5 miles)
This gives you more time to ask more questions or peruse the exhibits and park stores at the visitor centers in Lodgepole, Giant Forest, and Foothills. Consider attending an interpretive program instead of waiting in line, and learn more about park visitor centers..

There may also be delays at the entrance stations, as record numbers of vehicles have been entering these parks. On Fridays, Saturdays, and summer holidays, lines coming into the parks may be particularly long. Learn how to minimize your wait to enter the park.

Where are restrooms located?

No restrooms or facilities are available for public use at or within the construction zone, so “Go before you go!”

At the lower (southern) end of the construction zone, the closest restrooms are at Hospital Rock Picnic Area; Foothills Visitor Center is 4 miles further south. At the upper (northern) end of the construction zone, the closest restrooms are at Giant Forest Museum; Lodgepole Visitor center is 4 miles further north.

Can I get out of my car while I'm waiting?

As a rule, never leave your vehicle unattended while in the traffic-control line. Being outside of your vehicle on a narrow, winding, and steep road is not safe. While your car may not be moving, there may construction vehicles and the uphill traffic being allowed to pass.

Also, when your line of cars begins to move through the construction zone, you should be prepared to travel with it. Gaps in the traffic-control line may cause the flagging crew to think that no more cars are waiting to get through the construction zone. If enough time lapses, they may close the construction zone to all traffic, and you will have to wait until the top of the next hour.

What if I see bears or other wildlife in the construction zone or while I am waiting?

Some park animals are too accustomed to people. They may seem tame or unafraid, but they are still wild; they can hurt you or be hurt by you. If you see a bear, keep your distance (at least 50 yards, or half a football field).
It is illegal to feed any park wildlife, or to throw food or trash along the road. This attracts animals to the roadsides where they frequently get hit by cars. Any person feeding or harassing wildlife, or creating a hazardous condition involving wildlife, may be subject to a citation and associated fine.

Do your part: Respect and protect wild animals by keeping a safe distance and do not interact with them.

What should I do if my vehicle overheats in the construction zone?

Idling for a long time increases the chance that your vehicle will overheat. To reduce the likelihood of overheating, please limit idling. If your vehicle overheats, or if you experience other issues with your vehicle, safely pull over and notify a park ranger or construction vehicle that you need help (avoid pulling into grassy areas, as hot engines and brakes can ignite the grass). Additional park rangers have been hired to help patrol the Generals Highway during the construction season.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks experience some of the worst air pollution of any national park in the country. Idling cars contribute to air pollution and bad air quality. Thanks for limiting the time you let your vehicle idle.

How can I prevent fires along this road?

Fire danger is high, and you can prevent wildfires:
  • If you smoke, never drop a match or cigarette butt outside your car.
  • Use paved turnouts; don't pull off the pavement onto grassy areas that are easily ignited by hot brakes, catalytic converters, and engines.
  • Use low gear when going downhill rather than braking a lot. Frequent braking heats up the breaks, and the hot weather makes it even worse. Hot brakes are likely to fail. Then, when the car runs off the road into grass, the brakes start fires in addition to the accident.

Can I bicycle through the construction zone?

Yes; however, it is not advised. There is no detour around construction activities and the poor conditions they cause for bicycles, including broken or missing pavement, narrow lanes, and no shoulders. If you are planning to bicycle through the construction zone, take additional consideration for delays associated with road construction. Bicyclists are subject to the same traffic-delay schedule as motorized vehicles.

What if I'm driving a long vehicle or pulling a trailer?

Learn more about vehicle-length advisories and limits on these roads. Construction activities make the already-narrow Generals Highway even thinner, which makes it even more difficult for longer vehicles to take the many tight curves on this stretch.

Can I file a claim if my vehicle is damaged by the road construction activities?

If you believe your vehicle has sustained damages as a result of road construction, please file a police report and contact Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) about submitting a damage claim.
For more information, please contact the Federal Highway Administration.

How is the Generals Highway Construction Project funded and how much does it cost?

The project is funded by the Federal Highway Administration and is paid for by the Federal Lands Transportation Program. The estimated cost of the 2017-18 work is between $8 million and $12 million. For information on the Federal Lands Transportation Program, please visit their online fact sheets.

How can I find out more about the Generals Highway Construction Project?

Construction updates are posted to this web page and to Facebook as they become available. For the most up-to-date 24-hour road conditions and advisories, please call (559) 565-3341 (then press 1, 1).

For other FAQs about a trip to the parks, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

 

Last updated: June 22, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271

Phone:

(559) 565-3341

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