Repairing bridges

WYDOT to replace downgraded bridge on Highway 130

Just two weeks after finding out about weight restrictions placed by the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) on a Highway 130 bridge, the Board of Carbon County Commissioners (BOCCC) were informed of both short-term and long-term solutions to the issue.

As was reported previously (see “A bridge not far enough” on page 1 of the March 10 Saratoga Sun), Jason Armbruster, district ranger for the Medicine Bow-Routte National Forest and Thuderbasin National Grassland, had approached the BOCCC during their March 2 meeting about the potential of independent logging companies using Carbon County Road 504 to transport timber from upcoming timber sales in the Snowy Range.

Armbruster informed the BOCCC that the United States Forest Service had been notified by WYDOT of new weight restrictions placed on the bridge at mile marker 57.79 in November 2020.

Just east of that bridge is the junction between Highway 130 and Carbon County Road 504, which runs 15 miles to Saratoga and eventually turns into Pic Pike Road. During the winter season, only 10 miles of those 15 miles are maintained.

The county commissioners rejected the idea of utilizing the county road, most of which requires four wheel drive to traverse, in favor of contacting WYDOT to repair or replace the bridge.

On March 18, both Lenny Layman, Carbon County Emergency Manager, and Kandis Fritz, Carbon County Road & Bridge Coordinator, provided the commissioners with updates.

According to Layman, he had been contacted by Ralph Tarango, WYDOT District 1 Engineer, about the bridge and the recently imposed weight restrictions. While the new restrictions on the bridge put it’s weight limit at 25 tons for a tractor trailer and 27 tons for a truck and pup combination, the bridge could still support any deliveries of food, fuel and other necessities and any emergency services.

“‘A short term solution is in the works and the short term solution is as follows; we’ve engaged Reiman Corporation of Cheyenne under an emergency contract to install a solution to allow for legal loads. That solution should be in place within the next few weeks’,” Layman quoted Taragno as saying. “‘Long term solution; WYDOT is actively working on plans to replace the structure with a culvert’.”

Layman added he was informed that the culvert replacement would be part of the multiple WYDOT projects taking place this construction season. 

Following Layman, Fritz informed the BOCCC that she had been approached by Jake Lonn, Rawlins’ resident WYDOT engineer, about the use of Carbon County Road 504 for a detour while the bridge was being replaced.

“Thoughts on that? I told him I’d talk to you guys,” said Fritz. “They’re looking at another possibility of using nearby property to reroute it right there but I don’t know what’s in the works on that. So, your thoughts on using our county road as a reroute.”

Chairman John Johnson asked Fritz when the county road would be, potentially, used as a detour and for how long. Fritz replied that those details had not yet been worked out.

“We would have to bring our blower over and open up the road. I did remind him it is a four wheel drive road,” Fritz said. “When it’s wet it’s gooey.”

She added that she had requested of Lonn that WYDOT complete the project before the Snowy Range Scenic Bypass opened for the season. That section of Wyoming Highway 130 is typically opened around Memorial Day weekend depending on the amount of snow.

“My gut is let’s have them work on the other because, in the spring, I think that’s a no-go because that road can’t take the traffic,” said Commissioner John Espy.

“And then it’s such a long ways around. Brush Creek would have to go all the way to Saratoga and all the way back when their employees are seven miles from where they need to be,” added Commissioner Sue Jones. “I’m pretty sure the landowner will, in the interest of getting the bridge fixed, allow them to go a simple detour around that area.”

Near the end of 2020, the county had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Brush Creek Ranch for snow removal on a quarter-mile of Carbon County Road 504 to allow employees access to lodging during the winter. Carbon County Road 203, also known as Brush Creek Road, is approximately 3.5 miles west of Carbon County Road 504.

While no formal action was taken, the county commissioners appeared opposed to letting WYDOT use Carbon County Road 504 as a detour during replacement of the Highway 130 bridge at mile marker 57.59.

The next meeting of the Board of Carbon County Commissioners will be at 9 a.m. on April 6 at the Carbon County Courthouse in Rawlins.


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