JACKSON — A proposal by Grand Teton National Park to turn a two-way road into a one-way route is causing alarm among Teton County officials and others who say it would be a bad idea for tourism and traffic management.
Park officials are considering the change to reduce traffic wear and tear on Moose-Wilson Road. Part of the road is gravel, yet traffic has still increased over the years.
One problem is that if Moose-Wilson Road became one-way, anybody who made the short drive from Teton Village into the park would face a long drive to get back.
Teton Village is home to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and is a major tourist hub on the west side of Jackson Hole. Teton Village is just a mile south of Grand Teton along Moose-Wilson Road.
If Moose-Wilson Road became a one-way route, that two-mile roundtrip up to the park and back would become a long loop drive of more than 30 miles.
“This will no doubt economically isolate Teton Village and serve as a deterrent for tourists to stay, or even visit, the village,” Teton Village Association Chairman Jim Terry and Resort District Chairman Junie Fuchs said in a letter to county commissioners.
The return drive would go through downtown Jackson, raising concern about increased traffic and congestion in the tourist town, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports.
“We need to see if we can all understand a little better what is being proposed,” Mayor Mark Barron said. “Maybe like a fact-finding mission.”
Park officials should take more time to vet their plans with the public, Teton County commissioners said.
“We don’t know what the plan is,” commission chairman Ben Ellis said. “We don’t know how these lanes change, how traffic is addressed, how emergency services will be handled, how oncoming traffic on a dirt road heading into pedestrian and bike traffic would be managed.”
Park officials said they haven’t decided yet whether to change the road to one-way only.
“What’s been interpreted is that it’s going to happen,” park management assistant Gary Pollock said. “From our view, it’s something we would like to do next summer, but we’re not doing it for sure yet.”
Between 1,800 and 2,000 vehicles travel the road daily during peak summer times, he said.
“The reality is that the Moose-Wilson Road was never designed or constructed to carry the volumes of traffic that are currently present nor to serve as a primary transportation corridor,” Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott wrote to county commissioners recently.
She added that national park roads generally aren’t intended to provide “fast and convenient transportation” but safe, efficient travel with minimal harm to parks.
“With that in mind, one of the most challenging issues for the park concerns the future management of the Moose-Wilson road corridor,” Gibson Scott wrote.