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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 26, 2000
Contact: Lori Irving
Tel.: 202-366-0660
FHWA 39-00

U.S. Department of Transportation, National Park Service Celebrate Historic Partnership in Utah

Seventy years after the dedication of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Park Service (NPS) have come together again to open the Zion National Park Transportation System and Visitor Center.

"President Clinton and Vice President Gore are committed to protecting the environment, and this new transportation system will help protect nature and the beauty of one of our nation's treasures, Zion National Park," U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said. "I applaud Secretary Babbitt and the National Park Service for their vision and commitment."

"In 1997, Secretary Slater and I announced our vision for addressing transportation needs in the National Parks for the 21st century," Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said. "We are seeing this vision take shape at Zion National Park with the launching of a new transportation system that will help enhance the visitors' experience and protect the environment."

FHWA Executive Director Anthony Kane, National Park Service Deputy Director Jacqueline Lowey and other elected officials participated in the opening ceremony.

The visitor center opening follows a memorandum of understanding signed by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater and U.S. Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt in 1997. The agreement established a team of employees from the FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the NPS who worked together to ensure that future generations can enjoy the natural beauty of Zion National Park.

The new Visitor Transit Center will provide a place for visitors to learn about the park and plan their visit, including the use of the transit system. The transit system, which must be used during the peak season, consists of two loops. The park loop will operate from the new visitor center to the north end of Zion Canyon. The Springdale loop will operate from the new visitor center to locations within Springdale just outside the park.

Parking will be provided at the south park entrance and in Springdale through private partnerships with businesses. The transit system, operated and maintained by a contractor, is designed to operate with 31 propane-fueled NPS vehicles and will operate daily from the beginning of April through the end of October each year.

The FHWA and the FTA are agencies of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the NPS is an agency of the U.S. Department of Interior.

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