Map of Project Area and road and trailhead maintenance. Proposed actions would restore park infrastructure and help ensure the safety of visitors and protection of the monument’s natural and cultural resources. Courtesy/NPS
The National Park Service (NPS) is considering replacement of a motor vehicle bridge and two pedestrian bridges that were lost during recent flooding.
The purpose of the proposed project is to reestablish safe access to the picnic area, parking, and trailheads on the west side of the Rito de los Frijoles (Frijoles Creek). The Las Conchas Fire in June 2011 burned more than 156,000 acres in and surrounding the monument, including 80 percent of the Frijoles Canyon watershed.
The loss of the vehicular bridge cut off vehicle access to the parking and picnic area on the west side of Frijoles Creek. A temporary pedestrian bridge across Frijoles Creek is currently in place to provide visitor access to trails.
The NPS in cooperation with the Central Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration is proposing to replace the vehicular bridge at a new location about 700 feet downstream from the previous bridge location near the visitor center (see attached map). The proposed new bridge would be a low profile structure designed to pass flood flows.
The new downstream bridge location would reduce the potential for flood flows to back up and damage the visitor center and other facilities. A new short spur road off of the Entrance Road would need to be constructed to access the new bridge. The new bridge would connect with the existing road on the west side of Frijoles Creek. Damaged road and parking in the picnic area west of Frijoles Creek would be repaired with minor road widening to accommodate two-way traffic.
The washed-out pedestrian bridges would be replaced at the same locations as the previous bridges. The new wood bridges would be designed to break away under high flood flows to prevent debris buildup and flood damage. In addition, a flood-damaged road shoulder and culvert outlet on the Entrance Road would be repaired, along with other minor improvements to drainage structures.
The proposed action is needed to restore visitor access and parking in the picnic area and maintain the quality of the visitor experience. Locating a vehicular bridge downstream would increase protection of the visitor center and Historic Landmark District from flooding. Replacement of the vehicular bridge would allow monument staff access for search and rescue efforts, fire suppression, facility operations, and road and trailhead maintenance. Proposed actions would restore park infrastructure and help ensure the safety of visitors and protection of the monument’s natural and cultural resources.
An environmental assessment will be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to provide the decision-making framework that:
- analyzes a reasonable range of alternatives to meet project objectives;
- evaluates issues and impacts on park resources and values; and
- identifies mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of these impacts.
How to Comment on Plans for Replacement of Motor and Pedestrian Bridges
The public is invited to provide input on the proposed project at Bandelier National Monument. Comments received during the scoping period will be used to help define the issues and concerns to be addressed in the environmental assessment, while also assisting with analyzing the different alternatives.
Comments should be submitted online by visiting http://parkplanning.nps.gov/band, the website for the National Park Service’s Planning Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) system, or sent to the address below. Comments should be sent no later than Oct. 28:
Commenters should be aware that their entire comment – including personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While commenters can ask that their personal identifying information be withheld from public review, the National Park Service cannot guarantee that this will be possible.
If you have questions about the project, or would like more information, contact Joseph Gurule, Facility Manager, at 505.672.3861 ext. 306 or by email at Joseph_Gurule@nps.gov.