County Commission Okays Study for ‘Road-Building Emergency'; Proposed Westwind Road Would Link I-25 And Rail Park
As emergencies go, this one will take the first responders a while.
The Natrona County Commission approved a resolution Tuesday -- under a provision in state law about a “road-building emergency" -- to study the feasibility of a route from Interstate 25 north of Casper west to the Bishop Rail Park.
Flashing lights and sirens won't make the tentatively named "Westwind Road" happen any faster.
Without the statute in front of him, County Attorney Bill Knight couldn't definitively define "emergency," but he said the term didn't seem to make much sense to him other than an urgency for a road.
"It's an industrial road program, so I would assume the Legislature was addressing industrial emergencies or great areas of need with regard to an industrial project, not what we would anticipate as an ambulance service," Knight said.
Westwind Road, according to a very preliminary map presented at the commission's work session Tuesday, would start from approximately mile marker 195 on I-25 west to the intersection of Six Mile Road and Commerce Drive, and then extend Six Mile Road north a half-mile north to Bishop Road.
That's a lot of road and a lot of studying, Knight said.
"This starts the process, and we notify WYDOT (Wyoming Department of Transportation)," he said.
The county and WYDOT will being engineering studies. Then come the legal issues, surveying, land acquisition, rights-of-way, construction, and of course, paying for it.
"That's why the 'road-building emergency' maybe has a bit of irony because you don't build a road overnight, but if you don't start the process you're 10 years down the road and you still don't have anything there," he said. "So I would expect it would be months if not years before the commissioners ever make a decision to go forward with a road."
Nevertheless the need is real, because of the already heavy traffic of 100 trucks a day hauling cargo to and from the rail park, Knight said.
"The public interest is there, the public good is there to reroute traffic off of not only the West Belt Loop, but also (Highway) 20-26 and Six Mile Road," he said. "If we can divert those trucks out of Casper, that's a benefit to everyone."
The commission also approved a resolution of support for the Casper-Natrona County Joint Economic Development Board to apply for a grant from the Wyoming Business Council to help pay for infrastructure at the proposed Salt Creek Industrial Park. The commission had announced it would hold a public hearing about the resolution, but Chairman Forrest Chadwick said it didn't require a public hearing.