Work on Gros Ventre roundabout to run April through November

Gros Ventre roundabout. (NPS)

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Authorities in Grand Teton National Park announced today that construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 89 and Gros Ventre Road/Sagebrush Drive in the southern area of the park will begin on Monday, April 2. Construction activities are expected to last all season through the end of November.

GTNP superintendent David Vela said, “There will be traffic impacts related to this safety improvement project, and we highly encourage travelers to plan ahead for minimal delays and to be aware of the construction schedule for related impacts.”

Vela added the park is coordinating with Teton County and others to work together to best minimize impacts and provide for safe access for all users as multiple road improvement and safety projects may be occurring this year.

Here’s what they’re doing:

  • construction of a roundabout with a landscaped center island,
  • creation of a temporary two-lane bypass road with a pathway for use during construction,
  • relocation of the existing north-south pathway along Highway 89,
  • addition of a quarter-mile pathway segment to connect with Sagebrush Drive,
  • installation of a formal parking area on the Gros Ventre Road near the intersection,
  • installation of a snowplow turnaround on the north side of the intersection, and
  • repavement on a short section of the highway south of the intersection to the Gros Ventre Bridge.

During construction, a two-lane bypass with a separated pathway will be maintained to reduce congestion on the highway. Due to reduced speed through the construction zone, travelers should plan for 15-minute delays between 5am-8pm, and 30-minute delays at night between 8pm-5am.

During the construction of the temporary bypass, the Gros Ventre Road may be closed for up to five nights in the late spring to early summer from approximately 6pm to 5am. The Gros Ventre Road may also be closed up to two weeks after September 15, 2018, between 9am and 3pm to complete final roadway improvements. Gros Ventre Road traffic will be rerouted via the Antelope Flats Road during these times.

There will be a temporary pathway closure between the Gros Ventre River Bridge and north of the Gros Ventre Intersection through May 15, and again in late September. Pathway traffic may travel on the roadway shoulder through the Gros Ventre Junction area during the closures.

Any road or pathway closure dates will be confirmed approximately one week in advance of the closure via media release, roadside signs, park road information phone line, park website and park social media.

No parking will be allowed within approximately one-half mile radius of the Gros Ventre intersection throughout the entire construction duration, including the Gros Ventre Road and Sagebrush Drive. Vehicles will be allowed to park in paved parking areas or pullouts located along Highway 89.

Here’s why they’re doing it:

The Gros Ventre intersection on Highway 89 experiences a daily average traffic volume of approximately 14,200 vehicles and almost 200 bicycle riders during the summer season. 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. It is a high-speed, two-lane rural road with an unsignalled intersection.

“The Gros Ventre intersection is an extremely high-use area with some serious safety risks that need to be addressed,” Vela said.

The park has been working for years with the Federal Highway Administration, Wyoming Department of Transportation, and Teton County traffic experts to analyze the benefits of a modern roundabout. It was identified as the most effective solution to provide the best balance of improved safety, protection of wildlife and visual quality, and cost at the Gros Ventre Intersection.

The completed roundabout will accommodate existing and future traffic volumes. Other alternatives that were reviewed included tunnels under the highway and Gros Ventre Road, bridge underpass with additional pathway, pedestrian bridge, overpass or underpass with on and off ramps, stop light, and activated pedestrian crossing.

The construction contract for the roundabout and other safety improvements was awarded to HK Contractors from Idaho Falls.