September 26, 2015
Contact: David Eaker
Contact: Jin Prugsawan
Springdale, UT- The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, that runs through Zion National Park, has reopened after being closed since Wednesday, September 23 due to a rock fall. The rock fall area has been cleared and all normal traffic flow through the park has resumed.
A rock fall occurred in the park around 4:30 am on Wednesday, September 23. It was located approximately 200 feet from the Pine Creek Bridge on the first switchback leading up to the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. The main rock fall consisted of two large boulders that fell upon the road, blocking both lanes. The largest boulder was estimated to be 200 tons, and was 19 feet high by 20 feet long and 15 feet wide. The second boulder was 100 tons, and 10 feet high, 10 feet long and 15 feet wide. These large boulders were broken into smaller pieces using a hoe-ram provided and operated by a local contractor.
On further investigation, Zion road crews, Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Geological Survey, and Federal Highway Administration engineers determined that a section of cliff face above Wednesday's rock fall constituted an immediate hazard for further rock fall on the road. This additional rock needed to be removed from the cliff face before the road could be fully reopened to traffic. The park secured the expertise of a specialized blasting firm to perform this task. This operation began on Friday, September 25 and concluded on Saturday, September 26. The park then cleaned up all the rock debris on the road and checked to ensure that the road itself was not damaged.
"We want to thank all the people who have been affected by the road closure for their patience as we tried to get the road reopened as soon as it was safe to do so", stated Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. "The safety of the visiting public and our staff is of the upmost importance to us."