SHERIDAN — This month, the Wyoming Department of Transportation awarded Riverside Contracting from Missoula, Montana, $1.8 million to repair fences and resurface five miles of road on US Highway 14 between Dayton and Ranchester.
Weather-permitting, those projects could begin as early as this fall, Laura Dalles, public involvement specialist for WYDOT District 4, said.
Road engineers look for ruts and cracks in the road, traction on the roadway, age of the road and smoothness when determining which roads need to be resurfaced within the six-year state transportation improvement plan, Dalles said.
Resurfacing is a process by which construction crews tear up the existing road, grind it, reprocess it off site and bring it back to be laid down as new road.
Dalles said this process saves time and resources because it recycles existing material. Sheridan County has many unstable roads because of coal seams that run underneath, she said.
The resurfacing project is scheduled to be completed Oct. 31, 2020.
Traffic Control Specialists Inc. was awarded $260,960 to install wildlife crossing signs in Campbell, Johnson, Sheridan, Washakie and Weston counties by June 30, 2020.
WYDOT and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are working together to gather information about where wildlife crossing signs should be installed, Dalles said.
Last year, WGFD published a list of potential projects that would most benefit humans and wildlife by reducing collisions — there are more than 240 potential highway projects in Wyoming.
“If a stretch of fencing is planned for replacement, it might be a good time to also install wildlife-friendly fencing or cross points at critical locations to help route wildlife safely,” Angi Bruce, deputy director of external operations at WGFD said last year when the list was released.
Dalles said there has been strong support by the public in Sheridan County and the state of Wyoming to input wildlife crossing signs in migration corridors to reduce deer-vehicle collision incidents. The likelihood of striking a deer on the road is especially high near Big Horn, she said.
“These signs flash during peak wildlife activity hours between dusk and dawn advising motorists to watch for wildlife,” Dalles said in an email.
White Cross slide
WYDOT closed one lane of traffic and started reconstruction on U.S. 14 outside of Dayton the week of May 26 after heavy rains caused a section of the road to slide down a hill. The slide is called the “White Cross slide” for a cross of white painted rocks on the opposing hill.
The half-mile reconstruction project on that section of road is scheduled to be completed Oct. 31.
When WYDOT first started seeing movement in that section of the road, maintenance crews first tried driving heavy, long nails through the side of the road and ground underneath to hold the section of hill and road intact. When rains and flooding began in the middle of May, the road couldn’t handle the moisture and WYDOT closed the eastbound lane, Dalles said.
About 160,000 cubic yards of soil were removed to make room for new road on the west side of the existing road.