In July 2006, "significant life, health and safety issues" forced the closure of the Quarry Visitor Center in Dinosaur National Monument, officials said. Since then, monument staff has been working to get the quarry wall - which contains about 1,500 dinosaur bones - open to the public again.
"As soon as we closed the building, we started taking all the steps needed to protect the fossils and to complete planning so we could begin construction as soon as funds were available," monument superintendent Mary Risser said in a news release. "By fall of 2008, we had completed the extremely lengthy compliance process. We anticipate completing the construction documents this September."
Project funding was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Monument officials did not report a cost estimate for the proposed project.
This fall, the National Park Service will announce the opportunity to bid on the Quarry Visitor Center construction contract on the Web site, www.fedbizopps.gov.
Monument officials anticipate awarding the contract in early winter and breaking ground as early as spring 2010.
Construction is anticipated to take a year and a half. Reopening the quarry exhibit and visitor center could take place in later summer or early fall 2011.
"Every aspect of the monument's operations has been impacted by the closure of the Quarry Visitor Center," Risser said in the release. "This project will implement green technologies and improve the visitor experience at Dinosaur National Monument. We will once again be able to provide public access to Douglass Quarry and its world-renowned Jurassic-era dinosaur fossils.
"We are grateful that this recovery effort will enable us to accomplish this critical project that will protect our resources and enhance our ability to serve the public. Since this project will be contracted out, we anticipate that it will help put money into the local and regional economies."