The July opening of a new four-lane bridge was just one highlight during the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s annual presentation at the Albany County Commission meeting.
The new Snowy Range Road Bridge — which starts at Third and Harney streets and provides access to West Laramie and the West Side — is set to be open mid to late July, WYDOT engineers said Tuesday morning.
“We are planning a grand opening ceremony … and we’ll open the structure to traffic that same day,” WYDOT District 1 Construction Engineer Tim Morton said. “Then immediately after that, the contractor will move to Clark Street (Viaduct) and start demolition.”
The bridge is the culmination of a $23.5 million project, Morton said. As part of the new bridge project, the construction widened Snowy Range road to four lanes. The bridge will replace the aging Clark Street Viaduct.
Clark Street Viaduct
WYDOT Resident Engineer Steve Cook said the demolition for the Clark Street Viaduct will begin shortly after the opening of the bridge. The demolition of the bridge will come in stages starting in the middle of the railroad tracks, continuing on either the east or west sides of the tracks after that, he said.
“There is hope they can get all of the demolition of the bridge and all of the resurfacing under the bridge done this year,” he said.
He said it might take longer, depending on S&S Builders’ — the company demolishing the bridge — final demolition plan. Cook said they will update the public once more information becomes available.
Houses around the demolition site will remain in place and residents will be able to remain in their homes. Some residents might not have vehicle access and certain streets will be blocked off depending on what section of the bridge is being worked on, Cook said.
“There will definitely be lots of closures and areas closed off,” he said.
Clark Street will stop at the railroad tracks and construction crews will fill in the holes where the bridge pillars were and repave the street, Cook said.
Projects within city limits
Another emerging project for WYDOT in 2019 is construction on Grand Avenue from Third to 15th streets at an estimated cost of $2.6 million.
“This is not necessarily the same type of project that (you’ve) seen last time on Grand Avenue, that was a much bigger reconstruction.” Morton said. “This is a more of a mill and an overlay. We will fix some of the curbs and gutters that have deteriorated. We’ll put new signals in.”
Morton also said Third Street between Curtis and Boswell streets were due for maintenance in 2021.
“This is really a mill and an overlay, we’ll address as much curb and gutter repairs as we can get to,” he said.
Morton said they are planning to replace traffic lights and are working with the city to put in some enhancements such as medians or gateway improvements.
For 2022, Morton said they are looking at extending Bill Nye Avenue from 15th Street to Boulder Drive at a cost of about $5 million.
“We are working on a cooperative agreement with the city and the county … for new construction to finish that road section around 15th Street,” Morton said.
He said the Curtis Street Bridge project was slated for 2023 and the whole bridge would need to be replaced at a cost of about $7.3 million. He said WYDOT has hosted a meeting to inform the public and businesses on that side about the project.
“This is a pretty big project that’s going to be a major impact on that side of town,” Morton said.
The State Transportation Improvement Program presentation showed the projects for WYDOT District 1, which covers Albany County, most of Laramie and Carbon counties and a small part of Sweetwater County. This includes a large stretch of Interstate 80. Along with routine maintenance on I-80, WYDOT also has plans for I-80 sign upgrades.
“In 2020, we have I-80 sign upgrades — a lot of signs, big signs,” Morton said. “So, we’ll be out there with contractors setting new signs up and maintaining those.”
The sign upgrades look to run about $900,000.
WYDOT District Engineer Tom DeHoff also updated the commissioners on I-80 speed limit changes, saying WYDOT plans to raise the speed limit to 80 mph between Creston Junction in Sweetwater County to the Rawlins/Johnson Road exit in Carbon County. He said I-80 east of Rawlins to Cheyenne will remain at 75 mph.
“The studies show that we can’t raise it up to 80 in that section … there are just several things that just don’t allow that,” DeHoff said. “In our long range plan, we are looking at trying to get variable speed limit signs all along I-80.”
He also mentioned the new “move over” law that will go into effect July 1 along with new signs.
“The new signs are being installed by our District 1 sign crew,” he said. “The new sign says to move for emergency vehicles, but also for work vehicles.”
DeHoff said WYDOT is in the planning phase for two major projects that include the reconstruction of the I-80 and I-25 interchange in Cheyenne and widening I-80 to three lanes in each direction between Cheyenne and Laramie.
“We have hired a consultant to (work on) preliminary plans, and it will determine where it will widen, how it will look, what structures we have to replace,” he said.
Another WYDOT update included a new wildlife-themed license plate that will be available by early 2019. DeHoff said they don’t know what the design of it looks like yet, but the initial cost of the plate will be $150, then $50 to renew.
“The fees from this plate will go to a wildlife conservation account,” he said. “That money will be spent on projects that have wildlife concerns — wildlife crashes with vehicular traffic. It could be signs, it could be a fence, it could be an overpass or underpass. It’s not going to generate a lot for (an overpass or underpass) project, because an overpass, we are talking millions. But doing a fence or doing some signs, that’s more attainable.”