A group of residents living in a community near southern Utah's Zion National Park are concerned about a proposed plan to pave and widen a local road. Washington County and Utah Department of Transportation officials are holding an information meeting about the plan on Friday and predict it will be greeted by protestors.
When Rockville, Utah homeowner Layney Delange moved from California to the small community of 273 two years ago, she knew living near the entrance of Zion National Park would require some sacrifices. After all, 4.5 million tourists traveled to ZNP in 2017.
"You live near a national park, you have to expect traffic," Delange said. "Yes, we do. And we deal with it every day. I wait in line at the store. I wait in line at the gas station."
When planning her trip to the grocers this week, she added poster board and markers to her shopping list.
"I went to the store and got a bunch of signs, because I am going to make a bunch of protest signs," she said. "They gotta know how passionate we are about this. I mean, this would change all of the people in Rockville's lives that are on that route path."
What is Delange protesting? Well, she isn't exactly sure.
"I've called many people to find out why and what is the purpose of it," she said. "At first we heard it is happening and I was like, 'No, there is no way this is happening.' There is just so much gossip. It is hard to find the truth. That is what I am hoping for on Friday is to find the truth."
What she does know is Washington County Commissioners have applied for funding from the Utah Department of Transportation to pave Big Plains Road, a dirt road that serves as a short cut between the Grand Canyon North Rim and Zion National Park, right in front of her home.
"We have maybe 50-70 cars per day that come by our house," Delange said. "People already camp on our front yards, they knock on our doors, and they stop and take pictures of my dog."
A flyer being distributed throughout the community claims the plan would paved a road traversing an area known as Smithsonian Butte from SR-59 through Rockville. Grafton Road and Bridge Road would be paved. Delange and others are not certain how the plan takes into account a one lane historic bridge that leads onto SR-9.
The group of residents protesting the paving project estimate improving access to the area could result in as many as 560 addition vehicles crossing the bridge and traveling through Rockville each day.
UDOT officials will hold a scenic route public information meeting Friday morning at 8:30 in the Springdale Hampton Inn conference room.