The new Snowy Range Road bridge is now an award-winning project for the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the city of Laramie and Trihydro Corp. after it won the Wyoming Engineering Society’s Project of the Year award in February.
The bridge, also known as the Laramie UPRR Overpass, was completed in July last year, approximately eight months ahead of schedule. According to a WYDOT press release, the project was “one of the largest capital construction projects to take place in Laramie outside of the University of Wyoming.”
A collaborative effort, WYDOT coordinated construction and design operations, with roadway and storm drainage design consultation from Trihydro and assistance from city staff coordinating and moving a vast network of utilities previously underneath the project.
This is not the trio’s first collaboration together. Tammy Reed, infrastructure and water/wastewater business unit manager with Trihydro, said the company has enjoyed working together with the city and WYDOT “on a variety of projects” to help “develop practical solutions.”
Trihydro submitted the project to the awards collaboratively with WYDOT, and Reed said it competed against “four engineering project entries and one surveying project entry submitted this year.”
“Our internal team prepared display boards, a video using Trihydro’s unmanned aerial vehicle construction sequence footage, construction photos provided by WYDOT and a project notebook,” Reed said. “Trihydro was thrilled to be part of this important community project and being recognized by our peers was a great honor.”
City staff also expressed satisfaction with their collaborations with Trihydro and WYDOT. William Winkler, a civil engineer in the city’s Engineering Division, said he thought the award was “deserved by WYDOT especially” because they “played the biggest role” in the project. Since WYDOT owns the bridge, the agency was ultimately the one to decide to replace it, withresident engineer Steve Cook managing the project.
Much of the work, Cook said, was handled underground and with the soil before the bridge could even take shape. The soils underneath the future bridge were unable to support the weight of the fill, and the problem-solving involved to stabilize the ground, Cook said, was one of the biggest challenges of the project.
“We spent a lot of time and money doing work before anybody realized [we were] even doing anything because it’s all subgrade,” Cook said.
Reconfiguring underground utilities was another major part of the project. Tony Shifflett, construction inspector for the city, helped WYDOT inspect, replace and reconfigure the utility systems.
“Before they resurfaced everything, we replaced everything underneath the ground,” Shifflett said. “A lot of stuff was moved, redirected, replaced, upsized, [with] new material (from cast iron pipe to pbc) [and] new valves installed — that way it relieved any issues of having to come back and cut up what they resurfaced.”
WYDOT’s collaboration with the city stemmed beyond moving utilities. Since the bridge runs through a major artery in town, WYDOT also had to consider how the project on its two roads — the Snowy Range Road portion of U.S. Highways 130 and 230 as well as Third Street — would affect Laramie residents.
“It’s a major impact to the city depending on where you build,” Cook said. “It affects their traffic, so you try to collaborate with them as to the best place that it fits the whole traffic plan.”
The bridge’s impact on the community was one aspect of the grand opening ceremony in July that was “without a doubt” the most exciting part, Reed said.
“The atmosphere was electric, and the sense of community pride and accomplishment was contagious,” Reed said.