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Major road construction projects on tap in Yellowstone National Park this summer

Yellowstone River Bridge.jpg
Posted at 1:37 PM, Apr 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-05 18:42:15-04

Yellowstone National Park has some big road construction projects that will get underway this summer and that could affect your next trip to the park.

Yellowstone National Park Spokesperson Linda Veress said, “There could be up to 20 or 30 minute delays, but the park is working as best as we can to minimize those delays.”

Here are the four major projects. Starting in the north, there’s the replacement for the Yellowstone River bridge, just east of Tower Junction. East of that, near the Lamar Valley, a stretch of the road washed out by last year’s flooding is still just one lane. That will be expanded to two lanes. The road from Old Faithful, south to West Thumb is being repaved for 22 miles and work continues on the Lewis River Bridge along the south entrance road.

One of the biggest projects is the replacement of a key bridge over the Yellowstone River. It’s badly needed because the concrete on the current, 60-year-old bridge is crumbling. But visitors may not even notice the new bridge construction is happening. That’s because the new bridge, more than twice as long, at more than 1,400 feet, is not being built right next to the old bridge. Instead it’s going in upstream, so there will be very little traffic disruption.

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Concrete is crumbling on a 60-year-old bridge over the Yellowstone River that's due to be replaced this summer.

The price of the project might also catch your attention, the new bridge will cost $118 million. Just two years ago the estimate was slightly more than $71 million. The park says the rising cost of labor and materials like concrete and steel is to blame.

Veress said visitors should be prepared for changes in travel routines. She added, “People can expect heavy equipment in the area, workers, uneven surfaces, and we just recommend to drive slowly over these sections to minimize damage and provide for the safety of other visitors as well as the construction crews.”

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But Veress said there is a trick to avoiding the worst of construction season. She advised, “The best time to get to the park is as early as possible. Lines will be shorter, getting into the park as well as at any of these construction zones.”

Weather permitting, the project on the northeast entrance road will be finished this fall. A construction crew member at the site told MTN that survey crews are already at work on the project. She also noted that some blasting will be required to make room to widen the road and that will lead to more traffic delays.

When that section is completed, the last of the roads damaged in last June’s flooding will be fully replaced. However, the plan for a permanent road from Gardiner to Mammoth is yet to be announced. That is by far the biggest project required as a result of the June 2022 flooding.