Town authorizes emergency expenditure to protect highway

Mayor Matt Murdock authorized emergency spending by the town to construct a berm of soil supplied by the county to “offset the weight” of the eroding hill at the point of greatest pressure. Crews completed the task on Wednesday, July 13. The soil berm is only a temporary fix, Murdock told the Roundup. Photo by Robert Galbreath.

PINEDALE – A saturated section of the hill south of YNOT Auto Sales and below the rodeo grounds is beginning to slide, putting pressure on Lee Ditch and threatening to flood West Pine Street and Highway 191, Mayor Matt Murdock told the Pinedale Town Council at its July 11 meeting.

The unstable terrain could cause a break in Lee Ditch, currently running at 90 cubic feet of water per second, Murdock told the Roundup. If the ditch is breached, it would take at least two hours to shut off the flow, he added.

Two hours of water rushing toward the highway at the rate of 90 cfs would result in a “gigantic blast out,” Murdock said, covering a portion of Highway 191 with at least a foot of mud and water.

Pine Street and Highway 191 is the same route. The town of Pinedale takes care of snow removal, but the Wyoming Department of Transportation is responsible for all other maintenance along the highway.

The section of the hill under concern lies within town limits, and water had not entered WYDOT's right of way, so the town felt the need to step up and remedy the situation to prevent the highway from washing out, Murdock added.

Murdock authorized emergency spending by the town to construct a berm of soil supplied by the county to “offset the weight” of the eroding hill at the point of greatest pressure. Crews completed the task on Wednesday, July 13.

The soil berm is only a temporary fix, Murdock told the Roundup. The mayor held an emergency meeting with engineers from Jorgensen and Rio Verde. The engineers are looking into long-term, permanent solutions to protect Lee Ditch and Highway 191 and are continuing to monitor the situation.

Murdock praised the Highland and Lee Irrigation districts for cooperating with the town and reducing their irrigation flows in the midst of the agricultural growing season.

The town will realign its budget at a later date to reflect the emergency spending, Murdock told the Roundup.

Preliminaries on Pine Creek

The town entered into a professional services agreement with Teletractors, Inc. to serve as local consultants to reexamine a proposal submitted by Biota Research and Consulting to restore portions of Pine Creek, Mayor Murdock announced on July 11.

The town was not hiring Teletractors to break ground on shovel-ready projects, Murdock emphasized. The decision to begin construction work on any restoration proposals would be “years down the road” and involve multiple meetings where the public can comment, he explained.

Teletractors’ primary responsibility involves assessing Biota’s original master plan from a local perspective and recommending modifications or updates, Murdock said. Biota submitted its original proposal to the town in 2014-2015.

The town planned to partner with the local Wyoming Game and Fish office to fund Teletractors’ preliminary report, Murdock added.

Additional town news

Councilmembers unanimously approved a resolution authorizing municipal staff to submit an application for federal funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program, or TAP.

The grant will be used to hire a consultant to develop designs for future shovel-ready projects to improve pedestrian safety as part of the town’s Transportation Master Plan, said Abram Pearce, director of public works. The Wyoming Department of Transportation promoted the grant as an opportunity to “put real infrastructure in place,” Pearce added.

TAP would provide 90 percent of the funding with the town matching the remaining 10 percent, according to Pearce.

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