Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Click arrows for additional photos.The winding, scenic Generals Highway.The winding, scenic Generals Highway.The winding, scenic Generals Highway.

Road construction underway in Sequoia National Park

By: 
Sarah Elliott

 

The Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park first opened to traffic in 1926. The nearly century-old road is narrow and curvy, yet scenic and memorable. 
 
A large-scale, multi-phased  modernization of the highway began in 1995 and has been continuing intermittently for the past 20 years to bring it up to Federal Highway Administration design standards.
 
The high-traffic season on the highway is summertime. But that’s also the most conducive weather for construction work since much of the highway experiences winter snow. This past week, the next phase of Generals Highway reconstruction began. This time, the construction area is from Deer Ridge (12.5 miles from the Sequoia entrance station) to Eleven Range Overlook (13.5 miles), a short but challenging section of the road. 
 
Here is the schedule that will most likely remain in effect for the next 18 months or so (excluding the winter months):
 
Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.— Currently in effect; one-hour road closures. Traffic will be guided through the construction zone on the hour, uphill traffic first. After the uphill traffic has passed through the construction zone, downhill traffic will be led through. Once both lanes of traffic have been cleared, the construction zone will close to all traffic until the top of the next hour.
 
Sunday-Friday, 9 p.m.-5 a.m.— (These nighttime delays will not be in effect until after July 4.) Both lanes will be closed for eight hours with just one pass-through at 11:30 p.m., uphill traffic first. 
 
Weekends and other hours— No delays when both lanes are still passable, but when the construction requires the highway to be limited to one lane, delays will be 20 minutes or less. Traffic lights will control traffic, uphill traffic first.
 
Holidays— There will be no roadwork during the Fourth of July holiday weekend (from Friday, June 30, 5 p.m., until Wednesday, July 5, 7 a.m.). If necessary, traffic will be controlled by traffic lights.
 
This recent project will consist of two phases:
 
Phase 1 consists of the one-mile stretch between Deer Ridge and Eleven Range. The work will consist of reconstruction of the road to widen narrow sections, constructing new (or rehabilitating existing) retaining walls, improving drainage, constructing new pullouts, and other improvements.
 
Phase 2 includes repaving Wolverton Road from its intersection with the Generals Highway to the Wolverton picnic area and trailhead parking lots. The entire project will require two construction seasons (2017 and 2018) to complete. The Wolverton project, which does not yet have an official start date, is scheduled for completion before winter 2018-19.
 
How to minimize delays
 
Save time waiting in a lineup by timing how long it takes to get to the Deer Ridge-Eleven Range construction zone. 
 
Driving times from:
 
Foothills Visitor Center to the construction zone (11 miles)— 35 minutes.
 
Hospital Rock Picnic Area to the construction zone (6 miles)—  15 minutes.
 
Giant Forest Museum to construction zone (3 miles)— 10 minutes.
 
Lodgepole Village to construction zone (7.5 miles)— 20 minutes.
 
Wuksachi Lodge to construction zone (10 miles)— 25 minutes.
 
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