By Charlene Smith
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

All roads lead to construction

 

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WyDOT) hosted an open house Oct. 24 at the Pine Bluffs Community Center to discuss the upcoming bridge construction around Pine Bluffs on Interstate 80.

The intent was to offer the residents and business owners transparency on the project and a chance to voice their opinions on the demolition of six 1960's bridges along the interstate, the construction of new steel overpasses and the detours used during the two-year construction time.

The bid for the project will go out October 2014, and work will begin early 2015. WyDOT plans to complete the west bound bridges first and the east bound in 2017.

Engineers and WyDOT officials explained the different options for detours during the demolition and construction. One option involves the construction of "slip ramps," a type of temporary interstate on-ramp, which would allow motorists traveling on I-80 to access Pine Bluff's main interstate exit onto Parsons Avenue. This option would minimize detours and loss of traffic onto Parsons, which is the main business street of the community. But the accommodation will cost money and add time to the project.


Morton estimated between $500,000 and $800,000 of federal money would be needed for the ramp. He added over 90 percent of the cost of the $15.5 million project will come from the Federal Highway Administration, with the State of Wyoming picking up the rest.

The other option blocks Parsons Avenue exit during construction and offers a detour that would loop east bound travelers back to Pine Bluffs.

Not using slip ramps would decrease construction time and cost less, but it might come at the cost of businesses in Pine Bluffs.

"Ultimately the decision is ours, which way we go," Wyoming Department of Transportation Engineer Tim Morton explained. "But knowing there were concerns, we wanted to give Pine Bluffs' a better understanding of the process."

A box was set up to accept anonymous notes and suggestions. Morton said the people he talked with preferred the slip ramps option to leave the Parsons Avenue exit open.

"We will try to minimize the disruption, but essentially, with the demolition of the bridges, there will be some noticeable changes in traffic in and around Pine Bluffs,"Morton said.

Police Chief Robin Clark said most of her calls come in during the night and liked having a route or plan to get emergency vehicles through the construction area. She added the slip ramps would make her most comfortable, providing closer access to Pine Bluffs for emergency vehicles.


For more information on the project and engineer designs of the slip ramps, go to http://www.dot.state.wy.us.

 

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