Following up a bridge expansion, the Wyoming Department of Transportation closed off the Laramie River Greenbelt path this week under Snowy Range Road for minor repair work, WYDOT Resident Engineer Steve Cook said.
The project is slated to replace and improve the concrete pathway that has deteriorated over time as well as add erosion protection to the area, a city of Laramie news release states.
“When we widened the bridge, we added riprap to the slope, so we’re finishing that out,” Cook said. “Nothing’s going to look any different.”
Riprap is loose stone used to form a foundation for a breakwater or other structure. Despite the improvements, Cook said the path would still be prone to seasonal closures.
“It’s still going to flood like it floods now,” he said.
Laramie Mosquito Control Supervisor Keith Wardlaw said that portion of the Greenbelt has been problematic for about two decades.
“The Greenbelt’s been in existence for about 20 years, or at least that area has,” Wardlaw said. “It was designed as a recreation path, but that particular point at Snowy Range Road has always been a sticking point.”
With the high volume of traffic on the four-lane road, he said the city decided creating a pedestrian crossing to connect the north and south portions of the Greenbelt would be too costly, so they went under the bridge instead.
“It’s certainly been closed quite a few days because of high water,” Wardlaw said. “We’ve struggled with it over the years.”
During the spring, the Laramie River’s high waters flood the path, and during the winter, melt off pools at the low point in the path and freezes. But even if WYDOT were to try to fix the problems during their improvement project, Wardlaw said they wouldn’t have much luck.
“The sidewalk is just barely above the low mark of the river now, and we need room for pedestrians and maintenance equipment to get under there, so it could only be raised a couple inches,” he said. “In the spring we get a rise of a few feet in the river, so a change of a few inches in the path isn’t going to make a big difference.”
Although the current project won’t fix the flooding, it could repair erosion, damage done by logs floating down the high-water and realign a section of concrete to smooth out a path transition on the northern corner on the path, Wardlaw said.
“Hopefully, it will make it better than it is now, but it’s not going to have a dramatic increase in usability,” he said. “It’s a project that WYDOT has thrown together to help us out over there.”
Construction is slated for completion before spring high water impacts the area. No foot or bicycle traffic will be permitted in the construction zone, according to the news release.