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School official: State group failed to follow process

Jan 27, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

An engineering firm is seeking comments on possible routes for a new crossing over the Wind River from Riverton.

Dowl HKM, the firm creating a study on the feasibility of potential roads, held public meetings in Riverton and St. Stephen's on Monday as part of the process to gather information on roads that could link Riverton south to the Wind River Indian Reservation.

"We want to get your input as the public," said Kasey Jones, a geotechnical engineer with the engineering firm's Lander offices.

The idea is to explore possible routes that could serve as a new north-south artery over the Wind River in case of an emergency that halts traffic on the city's only crossing.

"The biggest issue is if something were to happen with the existing bridge, how would emergency vehicles get back and forth?" Jones said.

The single route across the Wind River from Riverton is the north-south bridge that serves as Highway 789 and Federal Boulevard through town.

The next nearest crossing to travel south across the Wind River would be Blue Sky Highway through Ethete, followed by traveling Highway 26 to the intersection with Highway 287 leading south to Fort Washakie.

The study will also create cost estimates for the potential routes.

The county commission is using Dowl HKM for the study, which will cost roughly $55,000 with 90 percent of the funding coming from a federal planning grant administered by the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

The firm is shooting for a June 1 target date on completing the study with another public meeting set around that time to disclose the various routes and their individual ratings, Jones said.

Potential routes on reservation lands south of the river for the new crossing could involve Left Hand Spur Road to the east to Goes In Lodge Road to the west. Routes in between include Behan Lane, Miller Lane, Little Shield Road and Crow Avenue.

North of the river, possible roads include Railroad Avenue, South Major Avenue, Rein Road, Galloway Road and others.

"Anything that has a road obviously to the south and the the north has to be considered," Jones said.

When asked if the firm is already targeting a preferred route, Jones said the study will determine that conclusion.

"We don't (have a preferred route), and that's kind of why we want to get the public's input," he said.

Part of Dowl HKM's consideration in determining the best routes would be evaluating the road's effect on the land immediately surrounding the area, Jones said.

He told the audience of about 15 people that the study will weigh how the new route "negatively impacts any of the neighborhoods in certain locations."

Some concerns expressed aloud during the meeting at Riverton City Hall involved the impact on Riverview Road and potential other routes.

"Yes, we're going to look at the connecting routes," Jones said.

The engineering firm is also considering effects on businesses and various other private property.

"We definitely want to work with the landowners and get as much input as possible," Jones said.

A concern expressed at the Riverton meeting involved tractor-trailer or tourist traffic heading north from Hudson, potentially cutting across the Wind River Indian Reservation and using the new route to bypass Riverton entirely.

For anyone who did not attend Monday's meetings, Dowl HKM has created a website to collect comments from the public. The web address for information and comment submission is www.dowlhkm.com/projects/bwrc/index.html.

The public can also submit comments by mailing them to Jones at 945 Lincoln St., Lander, WY 82520. The firm wants to collect comments by March 1.

The study will also include consideration of floodplains on the alternative routes over the river. "We have pretty good data because of what happened recently," Jones said.

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