Mariposa & Yosemite

Storms leave only one way into Yosemite Valley

Big Oak Flat Road is closed between Crane Flat and Foresta after a 100-foot fissure resembling an earthquake fault opened in the road. Heavy storms saturated the soil, causing it to shift under the road.
Big Oak Flat Road is closed between Crane Flat and Foresta after a 100-foot fissure resembling an earthquake fault opened in the road. Heavy storms saturated the soil, causing it to shift under the road. National Park Service

Repair work is expected to begin next week on U.S. Highway 120 near Yosemite National Park where the road is too damaged to be used by motorists, park officials said Thursday.

Significant rain and snow this winter has saturated the soil, resulting in movement under the roadbed of the highway, also called Big Oak Flat Road, according to a news release. It has been closed since late February.

The Federal Highway Administration has selected a contractor to repair the road, officials said, and work is expected to begin next week.

Soil under the road continues to move, causing further damage, according to the news release. More than 100 feet near the Big Meadow Overlook has been damaged by a crack that has split the road. There is no estimated date for the road to reopen.

“We fully understand that this is a major impact to park visitors and businesses along the highway corridor,” Yosemite National Park Acting Superintendent Woody Smeck said in the news release. “We are working as quickly as we can to get the road reopened safely.”

We fully understand that this is a major impact to park visitors and businesses along the highway corridor. We are working as quickly as we can to get the road reopened safely.

Woody Smeck, Yosemite National Park acting superintendent

Visitors can still enter Yosemite via the Big Oak Flat entrance, officials said. Crane Flat and the Merced and Tuolumne Groves of Giant Sequoias also remain accessible. The park has waived the entrance fee for visitors entering the park on Highway 120, officials said.

Wawona Road, which is U.S. Highway 41, is open within Yosemite, but northbound travelers will not be able to access the park, officials said. There is road damage on the highway in Fish Camp just south of the park’s entrance.

The state Department of Transportation is working on road repairs there, officials said. Check with Caltrans for current road conditions, www.dot.ca.gov.

U.S. Highway 140, also called El Portal Road, is open and clear for all traffic and is the only access to Yosemite Valley, Wawona and the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area, officials said.

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, call 209-372-0200 and press 1.

Thaddeus Miller: 209-385-2453, @thaddeusmiller

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