Two-thirds of the 7-mile-long Hermit Road, west of Grand Canyon Village, is now closed to traffic, buses and pedestrians for major reconstruction.

That closure, from Hopi Point westward, will continue through November 2008, and starting on July 7, the entire Hermit Road will be closed for construction.

This $17 million reconstruction project will widen the road, improve the viewpoints and better define the walking trail.

"People will be inconvenienced," said Maureen Oltrogge, Grand Canyon spokeswoman.

The road will be reconstructed from east to west.

The almost 5-mile section west of Hopi Point to Hermits Rest is now closed and will remain closed for up to eight months. The only traffic allowed there will be limited early-morning shuttle buses taking hikers with backcountry permits to the Hermit trailhead during April, May, September, October and November.

The other section of road, the 2.2-miles from Grand Canyon Village to Hopi Point, will remain open until after the July Fourth weekend, and then it will be closed through November. Shuttle buses will take visitors there, or they can walk the trail until the July closure.

Shuttle buses will not go on to Hermits Rest during the second half of construction period. Instead, from early July on, they will travel east to Desert View, as an alternative. These buses, July-November, will stop at Grandview, Tusayan Ruins and Desert View.

As a prelude to the construction, park staff and volunteers removed native plants and vegetation from a 6-foot slice along Hermit Road. These plants are being saved in a nursery and will be replaced in the area when the roadwork is completed.

Hermit Road hasn't been extensively renovated for some 50 years. The road's current design reflects the needs for automobiles venturing into the area in 1934-35.

The first crude wagon road west of Grand Canyon Village was built in 1902. Hermit Road was improved in 1907 and again in 1911. When refurbished with volcanic cinders, it was touted as a "city boulevard in the wilderness."