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Road improvement projects in Yellowstone to impact 2023 visitors

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Cars wait in traffic inside Yellowstone National Park during 2018 road work. PHOTO BY JACOB W. FRANK / NPS


Yellowstone National Park is planning four major road improvement projects this year to improve safety, access and experience, according to a March 27 press release. Officials anticipate road delays along the park’s southern and northern corridors as a result of the road work. 

The park has an asset inventory of $4.1 billion with an estimated $1 billion in deferred maintenance and repairs, according to the release. Annual routine management also costs an estimated $54 million. 

The four upcoming projects include: the Lewis River Bridge, Old Faithful to West Thumb, Yellowstone River Bridge and Northeast Entrance Road. 

Maintenance on the Lewis River Bridge, located 10 miles north of the South Entrance, will begin in summer, 2023, and is expected to be completed by fall, 2024. Improvements include a total removal and replacement of the bridge to a location immediately downstream, along with additional parking infrastructure. The park received $31 million in funding from the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund for the project. 

Formal plans to replace the Lewis River Bridge began in 2018, according to the National Park Service. PHOTO BY JACOB W. FRANK / NPS

Vehicle pull outs near the bridge, along with the trail to Lewis River Falls, will be closed during construction and visitors should expect roughly 20-minute delays, the release said. 

Road repairs will begin from Old Faithful to West Thumb this summer through the fall and will include repaving much of the Grand Loop Road, one of the most heavily trafficked roads in the park. Guardrails, culverts and other drainage structures are also set to be replaced, and the park advises that visitors should expect 30-minute delays in this area of the park. The $43 million project was funded by GAOALRF.

The National Park service began the Lewis River Bridge and Grand Loop Road projects simultaneously in 2022 to minimize the duration of closures in the area, the release said. 

The Yellowstone River Bridge along the Northeast Entrance Road is set for repairs this summer, through fall 2026. A new 1,285-foot-long, 175-foot-high steel girder bridge upstream will replace the existing 604-foot-long bridge to preserve year-round access to and from the Northeast Entrance. The project also includes new pull outs, paved parking and increased access to recreation sites. 

Hiking trails in the area may be temporarily closed during the project and motorists should expect “occasional and short” delays. Yellowstone received GAOALRF funding for the $118 million project. 

Flood repairs on the Northeast Entrance road are also scheduled to begin this summer and run through the fall. Construction will include realigning and repaving sections of road, streambank stabilization, campground improvements and enhanced visitor safety measures. Visitors should expect 30-minute delays in the area. The $25 million project is funded through the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads Fund.

For current information about park road conditions, head to the park’s website

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