Town council hopes county will foot bill for Fremont road project

PINEDALE – The Pinedale Town Council won’t put up the $10,000 needed as the local match for the scoping work on a plan to improve about 1.5 miles of the Fremont Lake Road, some five miles east of Pinedale.

But if Sublette County picks up the tab and also commits to funding the non-federal share of the actual road project – about 9.5 percent of the total, whatever that total comes to – then the city would commit to maintaining the improved road by plowing it in winter, for example.

That was the thought behind a cautiously worded motion approved by the council that authorized Mayor Bob Jones to participate only on those terms. The federal government would pick up most of the cost of the road through the Federal Highway Administration’s Federal Lands Access Program. That program supplements state and local resources, targeting roads and other transportation facilities within or adjacent to federal lands or that provide access to federal lands. So-called FLAP projects often focus on high-use recreation sites and economic generators.

Jones told the Pinedale Roundup that at first glance, it wouldn’t make much sense for the city to be involved in the project at all.

“The thought process behind the whole thing is that that is a road that is used primarily by county residents and visitors to the biggest attraction that the county has,” Jones said after the meeting. “The only way I could justify that we would be involved in this is that we have a water facility up there. We have to traverse the road daily, several times a day, to get there, so it would make sense that we would help to maintain or do the maintenance on the road.”

Sublette County Clerk Mary Lankford said the county commissioners have the Fremont Lake Road on their Sept. 5 agenda. But she added the commissioners already paid for the scoping study and the local share of another FLAP project to improve Skyline Road, and though the lower part of that work is done, the upper part wouldn’t begin until 2021. That’s about the same time the Fremont Lake Road project would begin, so it remains to be seen whether the county would take on a second such project at the same time, she said.

County Road and Bridge superintendent John “Butch” Penton said the road in question is a U.S. Forest Service road, so technically it’s the responsibility of neither local government at present. But the county does sometimes acquire roads from the Forest Service, he said.

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