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ITS Applications in Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Project #: 426131
Start Date: 04/01/2001
End Date: 03/31/2007

National Parks operate under a two-fold mission of preserving their historic, cultural, and natural resources as well as promoting the enjoyment of these resources by the American public. The National Park Service (NPS) has evidently succeeded in the latter part of this mission, as overall visitation to National Parks increased 54 percent from 1979 to 1999. However, this success, if not addressed appropriately, may threaten these unique resources, ultimately taking away the attraction that draws visitors. The impact of reduced visitation would not only affect NPS’s success in fulfilling its mission, but would also have significant economic impact on the surrounding communities. One of the most visible effects of increased visitation is the transportation system in and around National Parks. Congested entry gates, lack of parking, slowed or stopped traffic on roadways within the Park, and deteriorating infrastructure are among many problems increasingly reported by National Parks. Solutions to these problems might help to preserve the quality of the visitor experience and protect the resources. One class of transportation solutions that may be used to address current problems and improve the visitation experience is intelligent transportation systems (ITS). These applications of advanced computer and information technology to the transportation system may improve the safety, efficiency and accessibility of transportation in and around National Parks. They may be used to improve management of traffic flow within the Park; provide traveler information that is accurate, timely and reliable; and improve utilization of alternative modes. Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), with over 14 million visitors per year, attracts more visitors than any other land administered by the National Park Service in the state of California. GGNRA encompasses many unique cultural, historic and natural features in an area centered around San Francisco Bay, attracting significant tourist traffic from both local communities as well as other states and countries. Challenges include pre-trip traveler information, traffic congestion, lack of parking, and the promotion of access by alternative modes. It represents a unique location where ITS applications have the potential to address this broad range of challenges, so that the findings may be useful and applicable to many other Parks in California and elsewhere.


  • Chris Strong
    Chris Strong


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