Crews with the Wyoming Department of Transportation are on track to reopen the seasonally-closed section of Wyoming Highway 130 Monday, weather permitting.
Although the scenic byway through the Snowy Range will be opening to traffic, motorists — including bicyclists and motorcyclists — should still stay alert as they travel through the mountain pass, WYDOT warned in a press release. Snow melt can freeze on roadways overnight, and some slick spots may remain during the day.
Additionally, late-spring wintry weather is not uncommon in the Snowy Range. Motorists and outdoor enthusiasts should keep an eye on weather and road conditions as they use the highway.
WYDOT crews from Laramie and Saratoga started clearing snow on their respective sides of the highway in late April. Multiple rotary plows, loader-mounted rotaries and a snowcat were used to help clear the accumulated snow.
The heavy equipment was much needed; snow drifts were over 15 feet on some portions of the highway. Even so, crews were able to open the highway earlier than the target date of Memorial Day weekend.
Beyond the work to clear the snow, crews have also been repairing guardrail and signs along the highway, among other maintenance work.
Once WYO 130 is open, that heavy equipment joins the Baggs crew to focus on WYO 70 over the Sierra Madre range between Savery and Encampment. Work on that highway also started in late April and crews are seeing large drifts as work continues to open the highway. WYO 70 has a target opening date of the first week of June.
Opening dates for either highway are subject to change, especially if there is inclement weather.
The highways are two of several high-elevation mountain roads in Wyoming with seasonal closures. Highway 130 tops out at more than 10,800 feet, and Wyoming Highway 70 crosses the Continental Divide at the 9,955-foot Battle Pass.
Both highways close annually in late autumn when relatively low traffic and deep snow accumulations render plowing operations impractical. This season, Highway 70 closed Dec. 2. Highway 130 closed officially for the season Oct. 29, however the highway first closed Oct. 20 due to hazardous winter conditions, large snowdrifts and poor visibility.
Highway 130 opened May 25 last year, on May 21 in 2018 and on May 25 in both 2017 and 2016.
Last year, Highway 70 opened June 3. Before that, it opened May 21 in 2018, June 1 in 2017 and June 9 in 2016. Additional information will be released once Highway 70 is ready to open for the 2020 season.