Rock Slide in Wind River Canyon ‘Forcing Early Mobilization’ of $8.78 Million Slide Stabilization Project
A rock slide that occurred on Saturday night in the Wind River Canyon shut down US20/WY789 for nearly 4 hours so now, as a way to prevent similar situation from occurring, an $8.78 million project is set to resume earlier than expected.
"Last Saturday's rock slide that closed US20/WY789 for 4 hours in Wind River Canyon is forcing early mobilization for prime contractor Oftedal Construction, Inc., of Casper and its rock slide mitigation subcontractor for the second year of work on a slide stabilization project," the Wyoming Department of Transportation wrote in a social media post.
According to WYDOT, the $8.78 million slide stabilization project will include slide repair, grading, slide stabilization rock, manual rock scaling, rock fall mitigation, and various other types of work.
The construction work will begin on US20/WY789 beginning at milepost 115.9 through milepost 123.12, inside of the canyon between Shoshoni and Thermopolis.
Work already began on Tuesday, April 26 by Midwest Rockfall Inc., of Henderson, Colorado. They are a subcontractor on the project.
"Some of Midwest Rockfall's rockfall mitigation work still remains from the original contract -- installing a rock attenuator system, installation of rock bolts, repair of existing rock fence and installation of new rock mesh -- but now the subcontractor's work will also include emergency tasks at the rock slide which closed the highway Saturday evening," WYDOT stated.
The Powell Panthers Boy Soccer team assisted Saturday night with rock cleanup until authorities arrived.
"Oftedal is moving in equipment to move the current talus rock that fell on the highway Saturday so other rocks on the slope have a place to fall that's not on the highway," said Wyoming Department of Transportation project engineer Jordan Erz of Worland. "Midwest workers will then perform rock scaling work on that area to hopefully remove all the loose rock. There are also a few big rocks above the road that thankfully did not fall Saturday night. These big rocks must be moved to the roadway as soon as possible to make that area as safe as possible."
Erz stated that though many rocks have already fallen, there are several big rocks that are still precariously dangling above the road, and that the expedition of this project is "a proactive decision to enhance human safety and avoid further damage to the roadway."
In addition to the rock work, Oftedal will also be installing three different pipes to move runoff water on the project.
Additionally, asphalt paving is set to begin this week on 8.36 miles of the highway between the town limits of Shoshoni and Birdseye Road, between Shoshoni and Wind River Canyon.
"With the projects so close to each other, motorists should expect combined stop delays of up to 35 minutes through the $4.74 million paving project and slide cleanup effort," WYDOT wrote.
When paving is complete there, Mountain Construction will begin paving the Upper Wind River Campground. This is a separate project for Boysen State Park, but could also contribute to traffic delays between Shoshoni and Thermopolis.