After decades of planning, Timpanogos Cave National Monument will get a new visitor center this winter.

Timpanogos Cave National Monument will close Sept. 3. Normally, the monument is open into October, but it is closing so construction crews can immediately start with the roadwork necessary for the new visitor center, said Jim Ireland, Timpanogos Cave park superintendent. The new facility will replace the modular building that was installed as an emergency replacement immediately after an accidental electrical fire destroyed the park’s visitor center and administrative offices in February 1991.

“This has been 27 years in the making. It’s the culmination of everything since then. This will be the permanent replacement, finally, for that building,” Ireland said.

The cave trail will also be closed to hikers to ensure safety in and around the construction site. Crews will start work on the road in front of the monument just after Labor Day. Part of State Route 92 will be realigned.

The plan is to complete the road improvements before temperatures drop for the winter. During the winter months, the Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Co. will demolish the old building and construct a new building in its place. Workers will also update the parking lot, rock barrier and retaining walls near the center.

Ireland said the new building will have a similar footprint to the old trailer building, but will use its space more efficiently. Next fall, rangers will also create modern, interactive exhibits for the finished building.

“It’s not going to be any bigger. We still have to fit this little space we have,” Ireland said.

The complete project will cost $3.95 million, and is expected to be finished by June 2019. This cuts into the monument’s normal spring opening time, but Ireland said this still allows them to have visitors during the majority of the summer season.

During construction, the park’s Swinging Bridge Picnic Area and the Canyon Nature Trail will remain open as normal, but SR 92 through the park will have delays around the construction site.

Karissa Neely reports on Business and North County events, and can be reached at 801-344-2537 or kneely@heraldextra.com. Follow her on Twitter: @DHKarissaNeely

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!