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Public invited to road ribbon-cutting
Crews worked this fall to repave a stretch of 17 Mile Road west of Mill Creek Housing. WyDOT photo

Public invited to road ribbon-cutting

Oct 19, 2013 - From staff reports

Before being rebuilt, 17 Mile Road was called one of the most dangerous roadways in Wyoming.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the 17 Mile Road Partnership Project begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the newly-constructed Sand Creek Massacre Trail interpretive turnout southwest of Riverton.

The traditional Native American ceremony will be about 15.5 miles west of the traffic signal at the intersection of 17 Mile Road and Wyoming 789 south of Riverton, or 5.5 miles east of the intersection of 17 Mile Road and Blue Sky Highway south of Ethete.

Citizens are invited to attend this event, and a free roast beef feast will be served at the completion of the ceremony.

Speakers scheduled include Central Federal Lands Highway administrators, State of Wyoming officials, tribal leaders, regional and local officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Fremont County commissioners. Other people responsible for this project�s completion also will be recognized.

Part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony will include honoring families who have been involved with a loss of life along 17 Mile Road.

�The 17 Mile Road Partnership Project is nearly complete,� said John Smith, transportation director for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. �We have some mainline paving to complete. In addition, paving of approaches and mailbox turnouts is also scheduled. A chip seal will be placed on the road early next summer, and then the project will be 100 percent complete.�

The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes funded completion of the 17 Mile Road Partnership Project with a federal TIGER III grant in November 2011. The $8.23 million grant funded the roadway improvements from the Little Wind River bridge at the east end of the project to Coolidge Canal at the west end. Funding also came from Fremont County and federal funding through the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Indian Reservation Roads program.

The project was built nearly entirely by tribal workers, who were paid more than $3.7 million in wages for their successful efforts at improving what�s called �the most important road on the Wind River Reservation.�

Before being rebuilt, 17 Mile Road was called one of the most dangerous roadways in Wyoming. The roadway�s average fatality rate was twice the national average, and over the past 10 years, Smith said 17 Mile Road has had �numerous rollovers, car crashes and encounters with pedestrians and bicycles. This was due to the various safety issues of the roadway, including its narrow width and the absence of roadway shoulders and safety zones, and limited sight distance. As part of this project, a hazardous irrigation ditch in the right-of-way was also piped.�

Citizens who have lost family members on 17 Mile Road and who would like the family member recognized are asked to call the Tribal Transportation Office in Fort Washakie at 335-7669.

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Wind River Indian Reservation