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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel Named National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark

Scenic Highway 9 through Zion National Park climbs a section of tight switchbacks and then plunges into a sandstone mountain, through a mile-long tunnel, connecting Zion Canyon to the east Zion area and Mt Carmel along Hwy 89.

Construction of the highway was an amazing engineering accomplishment, one that is now being recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers. In ceremonies tomorrow, the society will designate the highway a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

The National Park Service provided this news release about the designation.

Zion-Mt Carmel Highway and Tunnel Honored

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) President, Andrew W. Herrmann and Zion National Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth will host a dedication ceremony designating the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Superintendent Whitworth invites the public to the ceremony at the South Campground Amphitheater in Zion National Park on May 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm to celebrate this honor.

The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel go where no road had gone before: up Pine Creek Canyon, through the Navajo sandstone cliffs, and east across the slickrock of the plateau. Over a three year period, this improbable route presented unique and dangerous challenges to the hardworking crews. They began work on opposite ends of the road. On the western side, a series of six switchbacks were carved from the canyon floor up. On the eastern side, crews blasted their way through a sea of slickrock sandstone. The most significant challenge was the arduous task of constructing the 1.1 mile tunnel through the heart of Zion's sandstone cliffs. On July 3, 1930, work was completed, and the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel were officially designated and opened to the public.

ASCE, America's oldest national engineering society, was founded in 1852 and represents more than 147,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide. The ASCE's Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Program (HCEL) recognizes historically significant local, national, and international civil engineering projects, structures, and sites. The HCEL was created to recognize and encourage preservation of landmarks, as well as promote historical awareness of civil engineering, both professionally and to the general public. Local, national and international landmark sites are eligible for nominations to HCEL status. In order to be selected as a historic landmark, the site must be of historic civil engineering significance, structurally or technically unique, at least 50 years old, accessible to the public and approved for HCEL status by the owner of the structure.


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