SHERIDAN — If more November snow and high winds come to the Bighorn Mountains, the daily chore of keeping U.S. 14A open between Lovell and Burgess Junction may end with an earlier-than-normal seasonal closure of the highway.
“We are already dealing with a major snow drifting issue on the mountain,” said Wyoming Department of Transportation maintenance foreman Jason Fleming of Lovell. “Crews from Lovell and Burgess Junction are sending trucks out every morning to plow and sand.”
Fleming said a WYDOT plow truck became stuck Nov. 3 while attempting to clear drifts from the highway. “We ended up closing the road that morning,” Fleming said. “Lovell sent a second plow truck to help, and it spun out trying to get up the face of the mountain because of freezing rain.
Tire chains had to be installed on the truck to help the driver reach the top of the mountain.”
Fleming said WYDOT crews are making the road passable every morning, “but we have been called out in the afternoon for vehicles having trouble getting over the mountain.” Fleming said safety of WYDOT plow drivers and citizens using U.S. 14A remains the primary concern.
The annual winter closure of U.S. 14A, west of Burgess Junction, is at milepost 76.04 on the Lovell side of the Bighorn Mountains. The seasonal road closure at Burgess Junction is just east of milepost 98.1.
WYDOT annually closes this 22-mile stretch of scenic mountain road in the Bighorn Mountains of north-central Wyoming around Nov. 30 at the conclusion of the fall hunting season. It usually opens for the summer by Memorial Day weekend.