What is the 2021 Yosemite Valley Circulation Pilot and how long will it last?
This pilot will test how well potential changes to roads and intersections relieve traffic congestion in Yosemite Valley.
This pilot will be in place at least until August and includes:
Why does the park think this will work?
For the past several years, we have been working with the Federal Highway Administration to collect traffic data and use a computer model to figure out the best way to reduce traffic congestion in Yosemite Valley. The computer model shows:
Why are all the changes being tried at once?
The goal of this pilot is to relieve traffic congestion as much as possible throughout Yosemite Valley. All of the road and intersection changes are needed at once because they work together to relieve traffic congestion. If only some of the changes are implemented, traffic conditions would be worse in other areas.
What data will be collected during the pilot and how will it be used?
During the pilot, the park will be collecting the following data:
What other measures has the park taken to reduce congestion?
Over the past three decades, as visitation has increased from 3.3 million in 1989 to 4.4 million in 2019, the park has tried numerous ways to manage traffic in Yosemite Valley in an attempt to relieve congestion and allow for adequate emergency vehicle response, including:
These efforts have been tried separately and in combination, and none has resolved traffic congestion, and some efforts have increased gridlock in the west Valley.
Will driving on Sentinel Drive on the opposite side of the road be dangerous?
The pilot includes changing the direction of traffic flow on Sentinel Drive so that vehicles drive on the opposite side of the road. To physically separate traffic flowing in opposite directions, water-filled plastic traffic barriers and traffic delineators with reflective markings will be installed in the Sentinel/Southside Drive and the Sentinel/Northside Drive intersections as well as along the Sentinel Road centerline. Additional safety measures include revisions to signs and striping, removal of road shoulder parking, and relocation of crosswalks. When driving within the speed limit and following road signs and markings, most drivers are not likely to consider driving on the opposite side of the road as unusual.
Would it make more sense to test pilot during a time of normal visitation when vehicles are not limited by reservations?
Since most vehicles end up in eastern Yosemite Valley, transportation planners expect there to be adequate traffic to test the pilot even with the reservation system in place.
What will happen to the emergency vehicle/bus lanes during the pilot?
During the pilot, the bus lanes along Southside and Northside Drives will be open for use by all vehicles. Since traffic congestion is expected to be reduced during the pilot, the bus lanes will not be necessary.
How will the pilot affect large vehicles?
During the pilot, vehicles longer than 30 feet will not be permitted on Sentinel Drive. To travel between Southside and Northside Drives, vehicles longer than 30 feet must cross the river via Stoneman Bridge (near Curry Village) and El Capitan Bridge (near El Capitan Meadow). This is due to the use of temporary barriers during the pilot. (If the park decides to make the road and intersection changes permanent, permanent design changes will accommodate large vehicles on Sentinel Drive.)