Saving a National Treasure

The Sun Road is an 80.5-km (50-mile), 2-lane highway that winds through Montana's Glacier National Park, up the steep slopes of the Continental Divide and over 2,026-m (6,646-ft) Logan Pass. Motorists can experience some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in North America. The highway itself, built mostly between 1921 and 1937, is considered an engineering marvel by virtue of its designation as a National Civil Engineering Landmark. The majority of the 19-km (12-mile) "alpine," or high mountain, section over Logan Pass was built into the sides of near-vertical cliffs using a network of stone masonry bridges, tunnels, and arches. A series of 130 retaining walls support the roadbed along the steepest sections, and more than 11 km (7 miles) of guard walls and guardrails help guide motorists and keep them on the road. Today, the Sun Road has more than 475,000 vehicles traversing it during Glacier's peak visitor season from June to October, or about 3,500 vehicles/day. Approximately 80% of the Park's 2 million annual visitors travel the road, according to park surveys. However, 70 years of rockslides and avalanches, severe weather, heavy traffic, and inadequate maintenance has left the road in urgent need of repair. This article describes recent rehabilitation efforts performed on the Sun Road, without which the historic structures that the road is so admired for might have been lost forever.

Language

  • English

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01042276
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 11 2007 6:05PM