Parking pass status for Golden Spike Site is limited

RELATED TOPICS: GOLDEN SPIKE
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Parking passes for the May 10 celebration are gone; for May 11 and 12, very limited.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
PROMONTORY SUMMIT, Utah — If you don’t already have a parking pass for Golden Spike ceremony’s 150th anniversary celebrations next month, better buy one immediately or schedule your visit to the Golden Spike National Historical Park after the May 10-12 festivities. That is the consistent message from every official involved in final preparations for three days of sesquicentennial events marking the transcontinental railroad’s completion in 1869.

Spike 150 officials said Wednesday that car and bus parking passes are sold out for the anniversary day, Friday, May 10. Passes for Saturday, May 11, and Sunday, May 12, are in short supply, says Cindy Gubler, Spike 150’s media representative.

An estimated 15,000 visitors are expected to attend each day of the celebration. Even with careful public access planning, May 10 will be especially crowded as the 11 a.m. Sesquicentennial Celebration Ceremony kicks off a week of event observances.

In attendance at the Ceremony will be Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao; Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt; Utah Gov. Gary Herbert; Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox; and Lance Fritz, UP Chairman, President, and CEO. Scores of other guests, including descendants of Chinese laborers who helped build the railroad, will be honored.

After Friday’s formal Sesquicentennial Celebration Ceremony and all day on Saturday and Sunday, the Park will host the Spike 150 Celebration Festival. Historical reenactments, locomotive demonstrations, interpretive lectures, and storytelling are planned. Food trucks will be at the remote site, which is miles from restaurants.

During the entire three-day Promontory Point event, only vehicles displaying Spike 150 parking passes will be allowed to travel to the park on Golden Spike Drive, also known as County Road 7200 North. UDOT Region 1 spokesman Vic Saunders says general access to Golden Spike Drive will be blocked at its Utah State Route 83 intersection.

“Parking is at a premium at the site and no parking is possible on the narrow Golden Spike Drive,” Saunders said recently. Each day, Utah Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies will be manning a checkpoint at the SR83-Golden Spike Drive intersection to ensure only vehicles with passes have park access. Federal, state, and local law enforcement will provide additional site security.

“Parking passes should be printed on an eight-by-ten sheet of paper and displayed on vehicle dashboards,” Gubler said. She discouraged retaining the pass solely on a cell phone or other electronic device.

In the event of inclement weather any of the three days, Gubler said attendees will park at the Northrop Grumman Rocket Test Site parking lot near Milepost 15 on SR 83 and ride shuttle buses to the park. “The park is in a high desert and there is a shortage of paved parking lots,” Gubler said while also noting that both wifi and cell service at the Park also are limited.

The vehicle pass system appeared mandatory early in the event planning. Without access control to the park’s remote location, organizers foresaw swarms of cars, trucks, campers and RVs arriving an hour before Friday’s start of the formal Sesquicentennial Celebration Ceremony. “A monumental traffic jam surely would have ensued,” one official observed.

Also on Friday, the U.S. Postal Service will release a three-panel set of Golden Spike 150 forever stamps. Starting at 3:30 p.m., USPS personnel at the park will provide a special commemorative postmark.

To accommodate these events, significant changes in the park’s May 2019 operating schedule were announced yesterday. “Visitors who usually make an early May visit to the park an annual pilgrimage should be aware that, for about two weeks, between the May 1 opening day and May 14, not all normal locomotive operations and park services will be available,” says Julie Blanchard, the park’s special events coordinator.

From May 1 thru 5, the park and its visitor center will be open and the actual Golden Spike site accessible. Instead of regular steam locomotive operations, Blanchard said, “There will be unscheduled locomotive test runs allowing the steam crew to check out winter repairs and make sure the locomotives are ready for the anniversary weekend.”

After May 5, special event schedules impact all park operations including Last Spike Site access and visitor services.
• May 6 and 7: park and visitor center open; Last Spike Site access maintained; no locomotive operations.
• May 8 and 9: park open; visitor center closed; Rangers on duty at information tent; access to Last Spike Site may be restricted due to construction; no locomotive operations.
• May 10 thru 12: Golden Spike celebration. Spike150 parking pass required for all park access. Full locomotive operations. Parking lots open at 7:15 a.m.; park opens at 8 a.m.
• May 13 and 14: park open, visitors center closed. Rangers on duty at information tent; access to Last Spike Site may be restricted due to event facilities teardown; no locomotive operations.

Normal Park operations resume May 15.

All visitors are cautioned that Promontory Summit weather can change dramatically during the course of a day. The park website describes weather influences and suggests visitors come prepared and “expect the unexpected.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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