Drivers, Rafters, Salamanders Battle Over Yosemite Landslide

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Meredith French

There's a battle brewing in Yosemite, and it's pitted a wide range of interests against each other according to the Contra Costa Times.

If you've spent time driving around the national park, you've probably encountered a strange one-lane bridge over a stream. Traffic lights on each end alternate in a cycle that lasts several minutes: first westbound traffic is allowed through for a while, then eastbound. It's a slow process that results in lengthy delays, and could be vulnerable to floods.

The reason for the bottleneck is a landslide that occurred five years ago on Highway 140. With the highway blocked, engineers had to act fast to install a temporary solution. But a longer-term fix has proven more difficult.

They could bring a cement bridge, but that's clearly inappropriate for a national park since it would spoil the natural surroundings.

Or they could install two viaducts, but that would destroy a wildflower area.

Or they could tunnel under the landslide, but there's a rare salamander living in that area and construction would wipe it out.

And then there's one last option: just keep it the way it is and cross your fingers that it doesn't fall over or wash out.

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