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Yellowstone delays opening of road damaged by record floods

by Associated Press
| October 8, 2022 6:24 PM

MAMMOTH SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park is postponing the opening of a renovated road at its north entrance as it continues to repair the damage from this summer's catastrophic flooding, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports.

The park has pushed back the road's opening date from Oct. 15 to Nov. 1, according to the newspaper, as park officials said they need more time to ensure that over 5,000 feet of guardrail are properly installed for traffic safety.

"We have set incredibly aggressive time frames for these repairs, and our contractors have worked at lightning speed to get this road safely reopened," Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a news release. "It's essential that we do not cut corners and we ensure the road meets required safety standards prior to opening."

Unprecedented flooding in June severely damaged roads, swept away homes and forced the park to close as it evacuated about 10,000 visitors.

The National Park Service said the most significant damage occurred at the Yellowstone's north and northeast entrances, where access was cut off.

The flooding washed out segments of the roadway between the north entrance in Gardiner, Montana, and Mammoth Hot Springs inside the park.

To reconnect the two areas, authorities have paved and expanded an old stagecoach route from the 1880s called Old Gardiner Road. The single-lane dirt road has been enlarged to two lanes over its entire four-mile length, according to the National Park Service. Officials say it will serve as a short-term solution while the primary road is reconstructed.

The project is being completed with support from the Federal Highway Administration.

The park has asked FHA to expand road widths in certain sections of the Old Gardiner Road. It has also requested the federal agency build a new approach road into Mammoth Springs, due to safety concerns stemming from the main road's 12-15% steep grade.