Snowy Range For Memorial Day? Not This Year
For the first time in memory, WYO 130, the alpine highway between Centennial and Saratoga in southeast Wyoming, will not be opened by Memorial day weekend, WYDOT officials announced today.
"Mother Nature won," said District Engineer, Jay Gould.
WYDOT crews are battling snow levels unseen across the Snowy Range in at least four decades. Drifts rise to 20 feet and higher for long stretches and water content is heavy.
Crews on the Laramie side began snow clearing operations on May 9 with two snow-cats, a dozer, and three rotary plows. The Saratoga operation began on May 5 with three dozers and three rotary plows. Additional snow has fallen everyday on the workers, including a foot and a half one night last week. The men had to plow themselves back in the next morning to start again where they left off.
At day's end on May 23 the Laramie side had advanced four miles and the Saratoga side two and a quarter miles. This adds up to half the daily progress vis-à-vis recent years. The crews remain over six miles apart from meeting.
The road opening has also been slowed by high demand for personnel and equipment at events away from WYO 130. On Thursday of last week, 11 plows were dispatched to work a heavy spring snowstorm that caused multiple crashes on the summit of I-80 east of Laramie.
The WYDOT crew in Rawlins has been hauling fill material to Baggs to strengthen the dike. They've delivered over 60 truckloads of sand to the State Penitentiary where prisoners fill sandbags in preparation of high water.
Gould said that he appreciates the patience of the traveling public and the support from Wyoming residents for WYDOT's responsibility to protect life and property in what may be a very wet month ahead.
"We'll stay after it," he said. "We'll get the Snowy Range open when we can, then clean up WYO 70."
Last year it cost WYDOT more than $270,000 to open WYO 130 by Memorial Day weekend.