Arches traffic ideas are rekindled

County may tap consultant

Traffic backs up at the entrance to Arches National Park on a busy spring day. Photo courtesy NPS

Seeking “a higher quality of communication” regarding the need to ease traffic congestion at Arches National Park and, by extension, elsewhere in Grand County, Grand County Council Member Curtis Wells and Moab City Council Member Kalen Jones have worked behind the scenes trying to find ways to solve one of the most vexing problems in the region.

To that end, the men propose a two-day session with CHM Government Services, a company that partners with public agencies involved in tourism and hospitality, with much of its work done in tandem with national and state parks.

Wells noted a controversial reservation system was put on hold for continued evaluation. “We keep looking for alternative solutions,” he said. “There needs to be a higher quality of communication.”

Wells said it was important for the community to reach consensus on how to move forward. “The goal is to reach out to the business community, the city and county.” He said once that sought-after agreement is reached, they could “respond to the higher political powers.”

CHM Government Services would host a two-day summit to discuss potential remedies at a cost of $30,000, which would be split between the county and city.

Jones said the scoping plan for the park began in 2015, and a couple of years later the draft proposal was issued. “It was spread over so long we haven’t had a chance to discuss it,” he said. The two days with CHM would allow people to “get all the factors in our heads.” Jones said when the two days conclude and the talking is over, it would “hopefully show us where we agree and disagree.”

Wells said he has previewed the issue with U.S. Rep. John Curtis and Sen. Mitt Romney, along with Gov. Gary Herbert and they “all seem to support” locals taking the lead. He said he was looking for similar consensus from his fellow council members and then meet with Clerk-Auditor Chris Baird to look at funding. “This is not a really heavy lift,” he said.

Chair Evan Clapper agreed, saying he liked the idea of working with the consulting firm. “People like to say what they don’t like about a plan but don’t offer options,” he said.

Vice Chair Terry Morse and Member Mary McGann also voiced support for the plan, although she did note that funding CHM’s services could prove difficult during a tough budget year.

According to the firm’s website, it has improved services at Grand Canyon and Olympia national parks, along with state parks in Oregon and Tennessee.