In recognition of his outstanding performance during the recent rehabilitation project on the Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park, Jerry Torres, Sequoia-Kings Canyon’s facility manager for roads, vehicles, and trails, was honored during a December 12 all-employees meeting at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. The regional citation for superior service was presented by Sequoia-Kings Canyon superintendent Woody Smeck and signed by Christine Lenhertz, director, NPS Pacific West Region.
Torres supervised teams from various agencies — Sequoia National Park, Federal Highway Administration, and NPS Denver Service Center — to complete the planning, design, and compliance of this long-term project. Besides upgrading the 87-year-old highway, a major consideration of the project was to preserve the integrity of the National Register-eligible road while also protecting the natural resources within the project corridor.
Jerry also managed a concurrent project: an 8.5-mile section of Generals Highway and bridge construction at Halstead Meadow, which has since restored the meadow’s natural water flow.
The new and improved
The reconstruction of the Generals Highway was a complex three-year project that began in May 2010. The construction zone was on a steep, challenging 1.5-mile section of roadway from Amphitheater Point (11 miles from the Sequoia entrance) to Deer Ridge.
The Generals Highway, engineered and built between 1921 and 1926, previously could not accommodate the longer vehicles of today, especially certain motor homes and trailers. The work entailed widening the highway lanes to a consistent 10-foot width and improving the turning radius of the numerous switchbacks. Still, some narrow portions remain that require some skillful negotiation by RV drivers.
The Generals Highway is one of the most scenic roads in America. It begins at the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia at an elevation of 1,500 feet. In the 19 miles from Ash Mountain to the General Sherman Tree, the elevation gain is 5,300 feet.