Alternate plan for Gateway Project

Editor:

In April, the Park County Commissioners were updated on the project known as the “Gardiner Gateway Project,” a project to change the entry road to Yellowstone through Gardiner.

I have proposed an alternate plan, but it has never been shown to the public, even after it was put up for view to some folks attending the April meeting. All we got from two of the people from the Park Service attending the meeting was a preference for using the road into the Park from Third Street. Even when a couple of gals said that the map and picture on my proposal was a better plan, one Park Service member on the panel said that was for discussion “next time.” That’s not much of an excuse.

I, and the community, sure don’t support the Third Street entrance into Yellowstone Park. For one thing, in a span of 300 feet on that plan, you have three left-hand turns — a real bottleneck!

My plan comes straight off the Yellowstone River Bridge on Second Street into the Park, and meets the road coming from the Roosevelt Arch. Arriving on Park Street, you could also go right into the Park via the Arch. You would have a two-way road into the Park from Second, connecting with the Arch road from there to the Ranger Station and from there a two-way into the Park. Useful, since 80-85 percent of the cars don’t stop at the Arch now.

The way it is now, the road from the Ranger station to Third Street is a mile long, and cars and buses wait in line 25-35 minutes to get through the Ranger station gate and arrive at Mammoth. The restroom area parking lot is full of cars and buses, so visitors may take another 15-30 minutes to get to a bathroom — one lady from England said recently she’d “gladly pay $200” for the use of a bathroom!

There’s also a complaint that the Arch is too narrow, and sometimes they wait up to 30 minutes for RVs to navigate through the sharp curve. My plan is to use Second Street as a way coming out, which takes care of the narrow curve through the Arch.

We have as many tourists in one day now as we had in a week a few years ago.

My plan calls for a bathroom between Park Street and Arch Park road, say about 100-150 feet into the area, lots of room for buses, RVs and cars to park and use the bathrooms. I bet anybody $100 it would clear the traffic and bathroom-jam at Mammoth.

We do agree on making more room on Park Street, with parking, sidewalls, and lights. My plan also calls for moving the fence back 20-30 feet, and level the area for RV parking. Yes, you could also put up a boardwalk from Third Street across, and meet the “Welcome” sign to Yellowstone Park. Make a walkway around the Arch, maybe a tree or two, and a couple of picnic tables.

In June, 2012, Gov. Brian Schweitzer stood underneath the historic Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner, and signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Park Superintendent, and representatives from Park County and Gardiner community groups. The “Memorandum” was for the development of a good road system at the gateway, but they still haven’t finalized a workable plan.

This is a “wake-up call.” If we are building a road into Yellowstone National Park for years and generations to come and use county, state and federal money for the road, let’s build it so people can use it and not a road that’s obsolete before it’s built. Not a special drive-in for private business as their current preferred plan seems to be.

I will be glad to talk with anyone — facts are facts and not fiction. If anyone needs pictures to see how it would work and where cars can park, I have them too — in two sizes.

The Gardiner Gateway Project needs to have more thinking put into it, and those who are making the decisions need to be more open-minded.

Joseph Gross
Gardiner