JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The intersection of North Highway 89 and the Gros Ventre Road/Sagebrush Drive is a busy one. So busy that Grand Teton NP wants to install a roundabout there with construction slated to begin next spring.
A public open house concerning the project will be hosted by park officials on Tuesday, July 11, at the National Museum of Wildlife. The public is invited to stop in anytime between 5-6:30pm. National Park Service and Federal Highway Administration representatives will be available.
Summer daily traffic at the intersection has an average volume of about 14,200 vehicles and almost 200 bicycle riders. Safety concerns have been identified at this location, and the Federal Highway Administration indicates that this type of intersection has the greatest safety risks of any type of intersection in the country—a high-speed, two-lane rural road with an unsignalled intersection.
“The current situation at the Gros Ventre intersection is an extremely high-use area with some serious safety risks that need to be addressed,” park superintendent David Vela said.
Safety risks include:
- Cyclists crossing the highway with vehicles frequently exceeding the posted speed limit,
- Pathway users often not observing traffic controls,
- Poor sight distances, advanced warning signs and pavement markings,
- Safety risks with left turns in the intersection from Gros Ventre Road and Sagebrush Drive,
- Poor sight lines for vehicles turning or crossing the intersection from Gros Ventre Road and Sagebrush Drive,
- Visibility of pathways users to drivers is often obstructed by parked vehicles,
- Confusion of unfamiliar drivers at the intersection, and
- High presence of wildlife crossing the road.
The National Park Service, in partnership with Federal Highways, Wyoming Department of Transportation and Teton County, conducted safety audits and analyses, and evaluated several alternative solutions to the issue. A roundabout was determined to be the best safety improvement for pathway users, highway users and wildlife. Other considerations included tunnels under the highway and Gros Ventre Road, a bridge underpass with an additional pathway, a pedestrian bridge, overpass or underpass with on and off ramps, stop light, and activated pedestrian crossing.
Construction is anticipated to begin in Spring 2018. During construction, two-lane traffic will be open at all times on the highway, except in short instances for specific construction activities. Traffic delays are expected for the highway, Gros Ventre Road and Sagebrush Drive from early spring into the fall. Daytime delays will be maximum 15 minutes between 5am and 8pm, and 30 minutes maximum between 8pm to 5am. There will be some impacts to pathway users in early spring through mid-June.
Access to the Gros Ventre Road from the highway will be rerouted via Antelope Flats Road for up to five days in early June to complete the temporary highway bypass. Additionally, Gros Ventre Road will be closed after September 15, 2018 from 9am to 3pm for approximately two weeks to construct the roadway without vehicular traffic.