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Draft Fiscal Year 2013 to 2017 Federal Lands Transportation Program Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) Now Available

The National Park Service’s (NPS) Federal Lands Transportation Program - Park Roads and Parkways Program has released the Draft Fiscal Year 2013 to 2017 NPS Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) showing a multi-year proposed budget for road, bridge and alternative transportation programs. The TIP is available here (insert URL link) as an Excel Workbook.

The TIP is a multi-year financial program that describes the anticipated schedule for obligating U.S Department of Transportation funds to NPS projects. The NPS will use these funds to plan, design and construct or implement a specific project.  The first year of the TIP is considered the annual element of the program. The out years are provided for planning purposes.

The TIP is divided into a series of spreadsheets showing summaries of road and bridge improvements (Category 1) planned obligations, and alternative transportation (Category 3) budgets for the seven NPS regions for each of five years (2013 to 2017).

The TIP Category Summary spreadsheets break out the budget forecasts by Resurfacing (3R) and Reconstruction (4R).  The spreadsheets also summarize budgets for Project Construction or Implementation (CN), Preliminary Engineering (PE), and Construction Engineering/ Construction Management (CE). These breakouts are provided for each of the seven NPS regions as well as for the nationwide program.

The draft TIP workbook is being distributed as a read-only file; the spreadsheets are locked and cannot be manipulated. Comments on the TIP workbook are always accepted; unless updates to the spreadsheet are critical, they will occur only on an annual basis.

Questions concerning the TIP Excel Workbook can be sent to Mark Anderson at A_Mark_Anderson@NPS.gov.

Bandelier National Monument

Following a series of fires and flash floods in 2011, nature has continued to press transportation challenges on Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.  On July 11, 2012, the park experienced its first flash flood of the season in Frijoles Canyon, the section of the park where the visitor center and major archeological sites are located. Additional flash floods are expected during the remainder of the rainy season, which extends through September. On July 11, the creek completely filled its banks, and took out all of the temporary foot bridges that had been placed over the creek after last year's floods destroyed the permanent bridges.

Through November 17th, all access to Frijoles Canyon is via a mandatory shuttle bus from the gateway community of White Rock. After 4p.m. each day, private vehicles are allowed to drive into Frijoles Canyon, but must leave the canyon by sunset. The shuttle was instituted when floods following a wildfire in 2011 washed out a major bridge and nearly half of the visitor center parking lot.

When the park was ready to reopen in 2012, park officials approached Los Alamos County about operating a shuttle into Frijoles Canyon. The county approved the idea as a way to promote economic development in the town of White Rock. A new White Rock Visitor Center will open in late September, and the shuttle stop will move to that location.

The park already had the funds to conduct a transportation study before the Las Conchas Fire. "The advantage now is we are actually studying the shuttle while we're running it," Lott said.

In addition, cars in the canyon change its quiet character, something the park staff works to preserve. Since the daily shuttle service launched, the canyon has been free of barking dogs, slamming car doors and the revving of big diesel engines. "Without the cars, it is actually much nicer," Lott said.

The park's administration is currently thinking about making the shuttle permanent. The current shuttle service to Bandelier will operate for three years, running seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. But making the shuttle permanent involves some challenges. For example, pets are not allowed on the shuttle, which means they must be left in cars at the shuttle parking lot. And what happens when someone misses the last shuttle out of the park in the evening? These and more questions are being considered.

Even before the 2011 floods, the park had been straining to accommodate more than 200,000 visitors and their private vehicles each year. Visitors often had to be turned away because there was no parking available in the canyon area. Once visitor parking is repaired,  the problem of congestion won't go away. And expansion of the visitor parking lot would be difficult. The visitor center, administration offices, the parking lot and a few picnic areas are sandwiched into the narrow canyon. Beyond them are the ancient kivas, the remains of a pueblo village built into the canyon's walls. "We don't really have the ability to enlarge our footprint," said park superintendent Jason Lott. "Basically, this is one long archaeological site. We don't want to impact it."

Photo of shuttle: Photo credit Daniel Mayer (Mav)

Mesa Verde 3rd Annual Bike and Hike Event

Mesa Verde National Park is hosting its annual "Hike and Bike" events on the Wetherill Mesa tram road on September 8th and September 22nd.

"Fall is a great time to enjoy the park, with cooler weather and the changing colors of autumn," said Superintendent Cliff Spencer. Wetherill Mesa is closed for the season after Labor Day, but will re-open for hikers and bikers on the 8th and 22nd."

On both days, visitors can drive to the Wetherill Mesa Information Kiosk, and then can ride or hike along the 5.5-mile-long tram loop road. Along the route, visitors can stop at the Long House, the second largest cliff swelling in the park, hike into Step House, and hike to views of Kodak House, as well as other locations.

Bicycle riding is not allowed on the Wetherill Mesa Road itself, due to the narrow condition and lack of shoulders.

For more information about the Bike and Hike Event, click here.

Photo credit for Mesa Verde Long House: NPS Photo by Cade Valcarce
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