PROVO CANYON — A popular hiking trail along the Provo River will close for as long as eight weeks as crews remove remains from an old tram and restaurant at Bridal Veil Falls.
The closure, which began on Wednesday, is part of a $1 million project to improve the area that once was home to a popular tourist destination. Roughly 1,100 feet above the canyon floor, scaffolding rings the upper part of the Bridal Veil Falls, where workers are set to demolish the decommissioned tram and remove the remains of a restaurant on a cliff above the falls.
Heavy-lifting helicopters will be used to remove material from the cliff, prompting Utah County to close the parking area, trail and section of an old road near the falls.
"Because we have a helicopter flying around in the area, there will be the same kind of rules that are in place for wildland firefighting," said Richard Nielson, Utah County Public Works director and county engineer.
The closure affects the old Provo Canyon Road and the stretch of the Provo River Parkway trail between Bridal Veil Falls Park and the Upper Falls Park. The closure also affects the parking lot on U.S. 189 that overlooks the river.
Nearby Nunn's Park will remain open.
Nielson said the removal project is part of efforts to improve the area around the falls. He said the public is welcome to contact Utah County commissioners or Public Works office to offer suggestions.
"What we are trying to do is to keep this fairly natural, have an area for families to come in and view the falls, enjoy the falls and have a good time," he said.
The site has had a "soft closure" with fences for the last two weeks as crews worked on the lower portion of the tram line, but as work begins on the upper part of the tram, Nielson said there was a need for a "hard closure," complete with trespassing notices and law enforcement monitoring.
Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon says it is important that people obey the safety signs and restrictions, and noted police will be understanding at first, but are ready to issue citations.
"The fencing and the signs and everything are pretty clear," Cannon said. "But after about a week or so, we will be giving people (tickets) and they will have to go talk to the judge."
Nielson also asked motorists not to stop along the highway to look at the construction, out of concern that it may create a traffic safety hazard.
Nielson estimates that thousands of visitors will be affected by the closure, and he asked for the patience of the public and respect for the closure signs as the work continues.
Nielson said the trail will temporarily reopen for the Provo City half-marathon on May 6 and for Memorial Day weekend.
Neilson said that the original plan, to finish the demolition during the winter, was delayed due to avalanche hazards as well as the availability of the heavy-lifting helicopters.
Nielson said the construction helicopters, which are also used for wildland firefighting, could only be available for a certain window of time and then would have to be ready to assist in firefighting efforts by early June.