Reconstruction of the bridge, which spans Isa Lake on a section of the road connecting West Thumb and Old Faithful, will bring the structure up to current design standards, improve safety, increase vehicle load capacity and preserve the historic integrity of the bridge. Improvements will also be made to adjacent parking and pullout areas to help maintain visitor access on this section of the Grand Loop Road into the future.
The original reconstruction plan, which was approved in May, called for the installation of a temporary bridge so that the road over the lake would remain open to visitor traffic. However, as the project progressed, designers identified potentially significant savings in time, money and resource impacts if the road were instead closed during a portion of the reconstruction.
If this proposed change is implemented and the road is closed, fewer trees would be cut down, the construction schedule would be shortened by a full year, and up to $500,000 would be saved. Visitor travel would be impacted from September 2, 2014 through the end of the 2014 season. Winter oversnow travel on this road segment would not be affected as travel would occur on a temporary bridge in the same location as the existing bridge. The following year, visitor travel would be affected from the regular start of the season through June 11, 2015. The current scheduled close date of the road is November 3, 2014, and the scheduled opening date for the road is mid May 2015.
A Categorical Exclusion (CE) outlining the changes to the plan has been prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The CE is available for public review for a period of 30 days on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website, http://parkplanning.nps.gov/IsaBridgeClosure. To request a paper or CD copy of the CE please call (307)344-2661, or write to: Compliance Office, Attn: Isa Lake Bridge Reconstruction EA, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY, 82190.
Respondents are encouraged to submit their comments through the PEPC website. Comments may also be mailed to the address above or hand-delivered during normal business hours to the Mailroom in the park’s Administration Building in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming.
Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or in any other way than those specified above. Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted. Comments must be received by midnight MDT, October 1, 2013.