South Entrance Fee Station Reconfiguration
The National Park Service (NPS) is developing an environmental assessment (EA) to consider alternatives to redesign the Zion National Park (ZION) South Entrance Fee Station and adjacent roadway to decrease park entry wait times for vehicular traffic, reduce localized vehicle congestion, improve employee safety, develop a renewable energy source to sustain park operations, and replace faulty culverts to improve roadway conditions during weather events.
Recent increases in visitation to Zion Nation Park has intensified the strain on existing park-infrastructure and has resulted in prolonged visitor wait times to enter the park, particularly at the south entrance. In 2016, on the tenth-busiest day of the year the South Entrance Station had a demand of 324 vehicles per hour. The current fee station configuration only allows for approximately 194 vehicles per hour to be processed. This leads to the current traffic congestion at the South Entrance, often times extending lines of traffic one-quarter (0.25) to one-half (0.5) mile into the neighboring town of Springdale. During the busiest times (weekends and holidays), visitors can wait in the queue line for up to an hour just to enter the park, which results in both visitor frustration and extensive exhaust emissions from vehicles. It also creates a safety hazard for park fee rangers as they "rove the queue" attempting to expedite the flow of traffic and reduce the congestion. According to the 2016 Utah Department of Transportation ZION South Entrance Fee Station Traffic Analysis, an additional visitor entry lane would return a 50% increase in the number of vehicles that could be processed and would fully accommodate current park entry demands.
The proposed project would reconstruct the South Entrance Fee Station area by restructuring the immediate roadway to expedite traffic, both entering and exiting the park. Additional fee booths, traffic islands, vehicle entry lane, and an employee parking area would be incorporated into the design to accommodate the number of employees required at the entrance station to facilitate park entry and would also create areas protected from moving traffic for employees. An increase in the number and size of the fee booths would help reduce instances where employees enter the roadway, or rove, to expedite park entry demands. A shade structure covering the fee booths and vehicle entry lanes would also provide a platform to install solar panels which would fully sustain the energy needs of the facility. Finally, two culverts, one north and one south of the Fee Station, would be rebuilt to adequately capture and channel stormwater runoff thereby reducing the overall risk of roadway hazards in the area.
This EA will evaluate two alternatives; a no-action alternative and an action alternative. The no-action alternative describes the current condition if no construction occurs. The action alternative addresses the reconfiguration of the South Entrance Fee Station and adjacent roadway pattern.
There are two formal opportunities for the public to comment on this EA process: during the initial project scoping and again following release of the EA document. You are invited to participate in this process by voicing your ideas, suggestions, or concerns related to the proposed project. These comments will be considered during preparation of the EA and subsequent planning.
Environmental Protection Specialist