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Federally Funded Study Aims At Fixing Yellowstone Traffic Jams

National Park Service

Yellowstone National Park has seen its visitation skyrocket over the last few years. And with more people comes more traffic. From standstill cars to nowhere to park, it’s an issue all throughout the park. Now, the federal government is putting $50,000 towards a study to figure out how to solve the problem.

Rob Gilmore is with the Northern Rocky Mountain Economic Development District, the non-profit that received the grant to do the study. Gilmore said they’ll be paying extra attention to the West Yellowstone entrance - a major culprit for backups.  

“There’s a big sign that says ‘Welcome to West Yellowstone’ and of course, everyone wants to have a picture with it,” said Gilmore.

He added on a bad day that can mean traffic goes back as far as seven miles from the gate. The other park entrances aren’t as busy, but Gilmore said that could change soon.

“Actually the park’s projections are that by 2023, all of the roads inside the park will be exceeding their capacity,” said Gilmore.

The problem impacts local economies, too, since traffic can split the town of West Yellowstone, Montana in half, making it difficult to get from one side of town to other. Gilmore said that hurts local businesses.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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