The popularity of Arches National Park has grown rapidly in recent years, and the quality and diversity of visitor experiences at many attractions in the park have changed over the years. Traffic congestion and crowding occur more frequently at parking areas, trailheads and popular attractions. Based on these conditions, the National Park Service (NPS) identified the need to develop a Transportation Implementation Plan for the park three years ago. Goals of the plan are to address problems that past projects could not solve, using transportation planning strategies to address crowding issues. While the plan?s primary focus is the park?s need, it also considers potential transportation alternatives and solutions that might be beneficial to the city of Moab and vicinity.
Preliminary analysis of the plan alternatives revealed that there was potential for significant impacts to park resources and values which would require the NPS to undertake a General Management Plan Amendment/Environmental Impact Statement. Due to funding constraints, the NPS Washington Office of Alternative Transportation Planning Program Management requested that the park create a Transportation Implementation Plan with scaled back alternatives that could be implemented with a five to six year time-frame. The appropriate level of analysis for this plan was determined to be an Environmental Assessment. The ?Notice of termination of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Arches National Park Transportation Plan? was published in the Federal Register on December 13, 2005 and can be viewed at www.gpoaccess.gov.
Changes to the original Transportation Plan/Environmental Impact Statement consist of removing alternatives that consider a proposed park-based alternative transportation system (shuttle bus), removing a multi-purpose trail system, removing improvements for bicycle use, and removing Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) strategies that would impact viewsheds within the park. This planning process will conclude with a decision document which will complete a 3.5-year-long planning and public participation process. About 200 copies of the TIP/EA document will be available for public review by winter 2005/spring 2006, and will also be available on the park?s website.