Work begin this week on improvements to railway tour bus staging area
Site located near the historic Grand Canyon Depot in the park
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Construction will begin next week near the Historic Grand Canyon Depot (Depot) to improve the area where Grand Canyon Railway passengers load and unload buses for tours within Grand Canyon National Park. The project was included as part of Grand Canyon's 2008 South Rim Visitor Transportation Plan which addressed an array of transportation strategies to promote alternative travel modes to the park, reduce congestion, and better integrate connections between parking, transit, wayfinding and trip planning.
The project will cost approximately $925,000 and Brown & White, Inc. of Tucson, Ariz, will complete work. The project is being funded through the Federal Lands Highway Program using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and will be managed by the Central Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration.
The project will include a one-way access road which enters the rail yard from a southeast intersection with Village Loop Drive and continues on the south side of the existing tracks; parallel parking for up to ten tour buses; loading/unloading passenger platforms running parallel to existing railroad tracks, which could double as a loading/unloading platform for passengers unloading from the train and loading onto tour buses; and drainage improvements, erosion control, revegetation, and signage. The existing parking lot, Lot D, which provides approximately 110 unimproved parking spaces, will be removed as part of this project (additional parking spaces will be added in the near future and under a separate contract, at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center).
When complete, the single lane bypass road along the railroad tracks will be closed to all but administrative traffic. This section of road, combined with the new tour bus access drive will provide a link between the end of the current Greenway Trail system, east of the site, and Hermit Road to the west of the site - providing continuous bike and pedestrian access from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center to Hermit Road and adjacent Rim Trail.
Nearly 230,000 visitors per year arrive at the Depot via the Grand Canyon Railway, which is an important component of the park's transportation system. Currently the Grand Canyon Railway, owned and operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, runs up to two trains per day to the park from Williams, Arizona - saving approximately 300 daily vehicle trips during the peak visitor season.
Arriving train passengers have the choice to take a variety of bus tours offered by Xanterra South Rim, LLC or they can visit the park utilizing the park's free shuttle system or one of the many paved trails on the South Rim.
Bus tours currently load just north of the tracks in a small parking area off of Village Loop Drive adjacent to the Depot. Passengers visiting the park on their own walk north of the Depot and cross Village Loop Drive to get to the canyon rim. The crosswalk is between the tour bus parking lot and staging area where additional buses are waiting to park and load. Therefore; for short periods during the day, there is considerable vehicle and pedestrian congestion in this area. This project, which should be completed by mid September, moves the tour bus loading function south of the tracks mitigating much of the congestion north of the Depot, disperses pedestrian traffic and improves safety. The project will also greatly improve the integrity of the Grand Canyon Village Historic District, where the Depot is located.
Construction crews will spend the next week mobilizing equipment and preparing the site for construction. On June 1, following the Memorial Day Weekend, Parking Lot D near the Depot will close and construction crews will begin excavation work. Grand Canyon Railway train operations will continue on a normal schedule throughout the project. During construction, flaggers and signing will be provided as appropriate to help guide visitors around the construction area. Visitors are encouraged to check "The Guide", a free park publication distributed at entrance stations and visitor contact stations, for a complete list of optional parking locations and shuttle bus information.
For additional information and questions about this project, please contact Vicky Stinson, Grand Canyon National Park Project Manager, at (928) 638-7364 or Maureen Oltrogge, Public Affairs Officer, at (928) 638-7779.
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