SUBLETTE COUNTY – Several state highway projects in the works at both ends of the county will delay travelers throughout the summer. And the state has already planned for Wyoming’s expected total solar eclipse influx around Aug. 21.
On Highway 191 east of Pinedale, from milepost (MP) 81 to MP 88, traffic is being closed down to one lane of travel for the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s (WYDOT) Pinedale to Rock Springs’ Boulder project, said Ted Wells, District 3 construction engineer.
The project consists of building a pathway along those seven miles as well as milling and overlay going .2 miles beyond the pathway’s end, with a total cost of $1.83 million, he added.
Wells said the contractor hopes to start paving next week and also start working on two bridge decks with spot repairs, with expectations that “it should be done by the end of summer.”
On Highway 191 at the north end of the county, the Rim project is in gear as well, with one way traffic being led through several repair jobs from MP 128 to MP 136, according to Wells.
Between the Hoback Rim and Bondurant, three slide areas are being repaired with “burrito wraps,” and of those, only two had been planned previously, he said.
The first is on the east hillside with sandstone and other rocks rolling onto the highway near the top of the Rim, Wells explained. The hillside’s backslope will be cleared away so rocks fall into the wide ditch between the highway and the hillside.
The second is actually the farthest west along the highway where a broad curve shows signs of settling, Wells explained
The third he calls the “Spud Slide,” by the missing guardrail that WYDOT is replacing this summer, which emerged this winter and was shored up until summer. This one wasn’t anticipated and
Here the roadway will be cut down four feet and the hillside above have materials removed “to take some weight off the slide,” Wells said.
All three will make use of “burrito wrap,” an engineering fabric that allows water to drain through. After the roadway is cut down four feet at the Spud Slide site, the fabric is laid out over the ground and covered with crushed base; the fabric is then wrapped over the sides to the top like a burrito.
At this site, the road will then be built up in 12-inch “lifts” to the original four feet height as far out as the “roadway template” so water drains through instead of under the road, he said.
“(The burrito wrap) will move and drain water better and if it does slide again, it can repair itself a little bit,” Wells said.
Repairing the two slides is approved for funding at almost $3.3 million for that section of Highway 191. The Spud Slide repair estimate just came in at around $600,000 and he hopes it might be less, he said.
Besides the missing guardrail between Rim Station and Bondurant, Wells said more guardrail upgrades are planned in Hoback Canyon this summer, with funding approved at $1.15 million.
“Most of these should be done by Oct. 31, the completion date,” Wells said. “You may run into some shoulder closure (in Hoback Canyon) and we might close a lane with flaggers.”
WYDOT is also replacing a fence along Highway 351 near Cora from MP 9 to MP 25. “We’re just replacing it all,” he said. “We can’t maintain what’s there now.”
Pathway projects in Pinedale and Big Piney will proceed as well but won’t affect highway traffic.
As for the eclipse-viewer crush expected on Wyoming’s highways, Wells said contractors received a “special provision” in their job contracts that roadworks will be shut down for three days before the Aug. 21 event and for three days after.
Wells and other local and district staff met with the public Wednesday in Pinedale to discuss WYDOT’s five-year plans.