Pelican Creek Bridge Construction: How bad is it?

Most every summer, there’s some construction happening in Yellowstone. There are only a few months when the weather allows work to happen, so we all need to accept it. Since 2017, work on Fishing Bridge and Pelican Creek bridge has been a part of my travels through the East Entrance. In this post, I want to share the progress made here and how it should help in the end.

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The wait time

The construction companies involved (Oftedal and Hamilton) have done a fantastic job of keeping the traffic moving. While allowed to stop cars for up to 30 minutes by contract, this has rarely been the case. Other than last fall, when the weather started to hamper operations, the longest I’ve waited for a pilot car has been no longer than ten minutes, but usually around five. Don’t let this construction project dissuade you from coming in through the East Entrance.

About this project

Oftedal Construction worked on Fishing Bridge and currently is focusing on the rest of the road to Indian Pond. The surface on Fishing Bridge is amazingly smooth and a delight to drive on now. Hamilton Construction has the task of creating the viaduct over Pelican Creek.

Both bridges, built in the 1930s, were beyond their design life. Also, the building method in the 1930s put the road through on top of the expansive wetland of Pelican Creek, forcing the meandering creek through one main opening at the bridge and a few culverts. The new viaduct will be about 1500 feet long to span the wetland, allowing it to flow more naturally and permanently restoring it.

Aerial view of Pelican Creek and the construction on the bridge over it in Aug 2019

The Process

Watching the process of building the viaduct has been fascinating to me. Of course, I love to document, so while driving through, I often will hold up the camera and take some “blind” photos – where I have no idea if I’ve caught anything or not until I download the images.

This year

Over the winter, the Pelican Creek Viaduct took quite a leap forward. Here you can now see the old road, the new viaduct, and the temporary work bridge. Once completed, traffic will use the viaduct, and the old road that’s blocked the water flow for at least 90 years will be removed.

aerial photo of construction at Pelican Creek Bridge in Yellowstone taken from a plane.

In Conclusion

While waiting in lines for construction traffic can be frustrating when you’re on vacation in Yellowstone, I honestly don’t mind at all with this one. The construction companies still keep traffic moving so much better than others, and once completed, this viaduct will be a real benefit to Yellowstone. You can find updates on this project here.

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