CODY, Wyo. — The National Park Service is planning repairs to Yellowstone National Park’s Fishing Bridge that will mean delays this summer and shut down traffic for the winter on the park’s eastern access road about three weeks earlier than normal later this year.
The long-planned and discussed project means Cody residents and tourists will not be able to drive into Yellowstone from the east side after Oct. 15. Normally, traffic is shut down for the winter during the first week in November, the Cody Enterprise reported .
Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said bids are out for the work and he expects a construction contract to be awarded by April 1. Work should begin in May on the 1937 structure and could take two years.
“We’re trying to have minimum impact on Cody and the East Gate,” Wenk said.
Once vehicles enter Yellowstone from the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway, they climb over Sylvan Pass and travel over Fishing Bridge to connect with the rest of the Park.
Wenk said bridge workers will be limited to pausing traffic for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
“We will ask them to limit it to 15 minutes,” he said.
Overnight shutdown of the road is possible, Wenk said, and would probably be between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
“There is very, very, very little traffic at that time of night,” he said.
Wenk noted that travelers coming to the park from Cody have alternate access to Yellowstone through Cooke City, Montana, and the Northeast Gate.
Cody officials are not thrilled about the interruption of traffic from the Fishing Bridge project but recognize the work is needed.
“It’s a necessary evil to take care of the infrastructure,” Cody mayor Matt Hall said.
Information from: The Cody Enterprise, http://www.codyenterprise.com