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Author Topic: Wyoming 59  (Read 3305 times)

andy3175

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Wyoming 59
« on: October 26, 2014, 07:36:48 PM »

Safety concerns along Wyoming 59 have come to the fore due to increased trucking traffic along this long, desolate route between Douglas and Gillette. While most coal traffic tends to travel between Wright and Gillette to connect with trains and Interstate 90 there, oil trucks have increased traffic along the whole corridor, all the way south to Douglas. Having driven this highway multiple times, I appreciate the vastness of the high plains and seeing the triple track Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad nearby (especially near Bill), but the trucking traffic has indeed increased in recent years. There's enough traffic and oil workers (as well as the nearby railroad) in the area along Wyoming 59 to warrant a small hotel in Bill (Oak Tree Inn), which is a surprise given Bill's population of what, 10 people? Wikipedia says the hotel was added due to the railroad, but I'd suggest it's seen an upswing in usage with the oil field boom. Here's an article on some pending plans to improve safety along Wyoming 59, which has the added danger (in addition to fast drivers, truck traffic, similar monotonous landscape, etc.) of wildlife crossing the road:

http://trib.com/business/energy/wydot-plans-upgrades-for-state-route-due-to-oil-field/article_34f20e70-ae1c-5698-a80b-3501b40a64cd.html

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Wyoming transportation officials unveiled plans for $22 million in upgrades to state Route 59 before a large crowd in Douglas on Wednesday evening.

The presentation by Wyoming Department of Transportation representatives came in response to rising concerns over the state road between Douglas and Gillette.

Route 59 carries much of the traffic from the Powder River Basin's growing oil fields as well as the region's coal mines.

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The plans would add 19 new passing zones between Douglas and Gillette, said WYDOT Chief Engineer Del McOmie. Three existing lanes would be extended under the proposal.

...

The department also has long-term plans for the road. In the next five years, the state hopes to add rumble strips along the road's shoulders and center lines.

The center-line rumble strip has been particularly effective in North Dakota, home to a considerable increase in oil field traffic in recent years, he said.

Col. John Butler, of the Wyoming Highway Patrol, called safety on Route 59 a "concern."
« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 12:20:20 AM by andy3175 »
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andy3175

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Re: Wyoming 59
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2014, 08:00:16 PM »

Wyoming 59 is also proposed for realignment north of Gillette in order to accommodate expansion of an adjacent coal mine. As part of the project, a connecting road would link Wyoming 59 with Garner Lake Road, which would effectively create an eastern, north-south bypass of Gillette via Garner Lake Road for through traffic along Wyoming 59. This connecting road (along with Garner Lake Road itself) would be county-maintained. Unlike many other cities in Wyoming, Gillette does not have an extensive state highway network providing local/regional access (compared to Sheridan, Casper, Rock Springs, etc.).

WyoDOT District 4 has some project information on its webpage. A map shows the relocation:

http://www.dot.state.wy.us/files/live/sites/wydot/files/08.18.14_wyo%2059%20Comment%20Sheet_Page_2.jpg

http://www.dot.state.wy.us/news/hwy-59-public-meeting-august-20-2014---connecting-route-display

A handout distributed at public meeting in August 2014 provides additional information, with an intended construction of the Wyoming 59 relocation in Summer 2015 and Summer 2016:

http://www.dot.state.wy.us/news/hwy-59-public-meeting-august-20-2014---handout-page-1

http://www.dot.state.wy.us/news/hwy-59-public-meeting-august-20-2014---handout-page-2

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WYO 59 would be relocated from its current location south of Eagle Butte Mine to north of the Mine. Most of WYO 59 would be abandoned and the land converted to mine operations. A small segment of WYO 59 would be maintained between US 14-16 and Little Powder Road. Jurisdiction of this remaining road segment would likely be transferred to Campbell County to serve local traffic.

Campbell County has initiated the procedure by resolution to establish the connecting route between WYO 59 and Garner Lake Road. The route is consistent with direction provided in the Campbell County Coal Belt Transportation Study. Campbell County and WYDOT have discussed the proposed connection with affected landowners. The location shown is a general location that would eliminated the need to relocate the connecting road in the future.

If WYDOT decides to relocate WYO 59, Campbell County will work with WYDOT, Alpha, and affected landowners to determine a specific route for the connecting road between WYO 59 and Garner Lake road. The route will be designed to meet County and State standards. Construction of the connecting road will begin following construction of relocated WYO 59. The connecting road will be a gravel road when it is first constructed. The approximate three (3) mile road will be paved when funding is secured and budgeted, total cost is estimated at between $5 to $6 million.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 12:20:43 AM by andy3175 »
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andy3175

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Re: Wyoming 59
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2014, 12:00:39 AM »

http://www.wyomingbusinessreport.com/article/20141107/EDITION/141109982

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Always a busy highway with traffic to and from the coalmines that operate just off of Highway 59, the road is now being impacted by an increasingly active oil play throughout Converse County and southern Campbell County. That activity has led to increased truck traffic, deteriorating roadways and more safety issues.

However, regional concerns about the highway’s safety and conditions prompted two public meetings – one in Douglas and another in Wright. About 200 people attended both meetings. Additional meetings with county officials, WYDOT personnel and school district officials also took place where officials not only discussed the impacts of Highway 59, but many of the arterial roads in Converse County. ...

With more industrial growth on the horizon, residents voiced concerns over the speed limit of 65 through the town of Bill, the need for additional lanes, more turn lanes and many other safety-enhancing features. But WYDOT Chief Engineer Del McOmie said all of those things come with a price tag.

"It boils down to time and money," McOmie said. "Since 2003 we’ve moved from a highway enhancement program to a pavement preservation program. We don’t have enough funds to take care of what we have today."

However, some projects are set to begin in the spring, including the addition of at least five left-hand turn lanes between Douglas and Wright, rumble strips added to the shoulders and center lane rumble stripes. Several projects in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 will extend passing lanes from Wright to Gillette; create five lanes of traffic through Reno Junction and Wright; add turning lanes north of Douglas; and continue the five lanes of traffic south of Gillette an additional four miles. ...

The addition of 14 passing lanes between Douglas and the county line and five between the county line and Gillette are also part of WYDOT’s $54.8 million proposal planned for the 2015 legislative session. More than $22 million is specifically earmarked for passing lanes on Highway 59. If approved, money for those projects could be available as soon as July 1.

"Our number one priority is [passing lanes for] Highway 59," McOmie said. "By the first week of March we should know if we’re successful. If they do fund it, the money would be available July 1. By October 2016 we could have all those 22 passing lanes in place." ...

Another unknown at this time is the outcome of a submission for an information request by the Federal Highway Administration for projects that are economically significant nationwide. As a main artery of energy development in the state that provides coal, oil, natural gas and uranium to many parts of the country, McOmie said he believes Highway 59 qualifies under the project guidelines definition of a roadway with national and regional significance.

"It was an $80 million request," McOmie said. "It would be money above and beyond what we normally have."
« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 12:20:33 AM by andy3175 »
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andy3175

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Re: Wyoming 59
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2014, 11:23:21 PM »

Continuing the theme, with concerns about speeding traffic in tiny Bill, which is located along Wyoming 59:

http://news.prairiepublic.org/post/inside-energy-traffic-problems

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Driving along the 115 mile stretch that connects the two energy towns of Douglas and Gillette there’s tons of traffic but little else. Until.... "You're in Bill, Wyoming. If you look on the census, its 11…" Nell Bride owns the Bill Store, the popular- and only- stop off for coal, oil and gas workers traveling between the two towns.. Business is up and so is the traffic." ... Since 2010, the number of crashes on this stretch of highway has nearly doubled. And in May, a bus carrying coal miners crashed, killing three people. Wyoming's Department of Transportation recently earmarked $22 million dollars to build passing lanes and plans to send out more state troopers to patrol Highway 59 . But Nell Bride wants change now. ... Oil worker Shilo White has been taking highway 59 at least twice a day for the past nine years. The traffic has been so bad for so long- he says- that locals... "They call it the coal miners 500….. So mix the oil field with the coal miners and you've got nothing but a ….race way. Its a dangerous one." But maybe a little less dangerous for the town of Bill … Wyoming's D-O-T has fast-tracked the study required to lower the speed limit across the road from the Bill Store. And those NEW signs could go up as soon as the end of this month.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 12:22:55 AM by andy3175 »
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andy3175

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Re: Wyoming 59
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2015, 12:08:29 AM »

Other road projects will be bumped down list due to Highway 59 passing lanes

http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/other-road-projects-will-be-bumped-down-list-due-to/article_e65220db-d05a-5592-9f24-1a86ea25f599.html

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While Wyoming Department of Transportation engineers begin to design passing lanes for a deadly highway in the Powder River Basin, critics are unhappy by the amount of money provided for the work.

People throughout Wyoming, including Gov. Matt Mead, are also critical of how the Wyoming Legislature spent money on Highway 59 -- funding that includes some money for the lanes on U.S. Highway 20/26 -- because it will delay other highway construction and maintenance throughout the state.

With traffic buzzing up and down the highway to the area’s coal mines, combined with new oilfield traffic, the two-lane highway has recently become more deadly. In 2014, eight people were killed in five accidents. Since 2005, there have been 24 fatalities, said Gregg Fredrick, WYDOT assistant chief engineer.

Late last year, Mead recommended the Legislature spend $21.2 million on passing lanes.

In the session that adjourned March 6, the Legislature passed a supplemental budget providing up to $17 million: $2 million for design; $10 million for construction, an amount that will delay other state road projects; and an additional $5 million if the state earns investment income that exceeds projections next fiscal year.

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Last year, WYDOT estimated it would cost about $54.8 million to build passing lanes throughout the state. Then Mead recommended $21.2 million, and the conversation changed, Cox said.

“When the conversation proceeded to that point, that’s when we began talking about two routes, that being 59 and 20/26, rather than four routes statewide,” Cox said.

Those four routes included two other roads that WYDOT determined needed passing lanes to give relief to congestion: Highway 789 between Riverton and Hudson and U.S. 30 between Interstate 80 and Border Junction at the Idaho state line, he said.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 12:22:51 AM by andy3175 »
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andy3175

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Re: Wyoming 59
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2015, 12:25:40 AM »

http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/town_county/county-seeks-to-roadblock-expansion/article_36da0833-4af0-5af1-9f1f-9bef05328075.html

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(Teton County) Commissioners have sent a letter to Gov. Matt Mead, Wyoming Department of Transportation Director John Cox and Wyoming Transportation Commission Chairman Clair Anderson asking them to divert up to $30 million from a planned expansion of Highway 89 to pay for passing lanes on Campbell County’s Highway 59. But state officials say federal funding requirements attached to the Highway 89 project may make such a proposal impossible.

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Highway 59, which runs north from Douglas through Gillette and beyond, is a notoriously dangerous stretch of road populated with heavy truck traffic from the area’s many extractive industries. Highway 89 between Hoback Junction and South Park is a two-lane highway that the Wyoming Department of Transportation intends to widen to five lanes. The $90 million project is slated to start in 2017. Teton County officials have vigorously opposed WYDOT’s intention to widen Highway 89, but commissioners struck a cooperative tone in their June 15 letter, presenting it as a “constructive proposal.”

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The section of Highway 59 between Gillette and Douglas, Barlow said, “is home to many coal mines, and lots of oil and gas and even uranium development. “Basically it’s a main conduit with a lot of energy development traffic on it,” Barlow said. That traffic consists of heavy trucks hauling industrial supplies and products within the county and out of the state, Barlow said. The 70-mile stretch of Highway 59 between Douglas and Wright “is a two-lane road all the way,” he said, “and it’s a challenge to drive.” Of the $17 million needed to build 17 new passing lanes on Highway 59, approximately $7 million has been secured or is likely to be appropriated from mineral revenues within the next two years, Barlow said. The remaining $10 million hasn’t been appropriated, and state officials are looking to find that in funding from other projects around the state, he said.
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andy3175

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Re: Wyoming 59
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2016, 01:44:16 AM »

Here's a February 1, 2016 article that provides an update on funded WYO 59 improvements (passing lanes).

http://www.wyomingnews.com/news/highway-of-death-getting-m-makeover/article_0ecb8e48-c8b3-11e5-b367-cbd94943a7de.html

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The so-called “highway of death” – Highway 59 in northeast Wyoming – is about to get an expensive makeover.

Wyoming legislators in 2015 voted not to give the highway what Gov. Matt Mead thought were its full dues.

Mead asked for $21 million. Instead, the Joint Appropriations Committee OK’d $17 million for upgrades to it and U.S. 20/26 between Casper and Shoshoni.

The now-bust energy boom is largely blamed for most of the new deaths on the highway. Deaths have nearly doubled on the highway since 2010.

For instance, in May 2014, a bus that transports coal miners to and from work slammed into the back of parked vehicles waiting for a pilot car in a construction zone. The incident killed three people. Officials said at the time it appeared the bus never slowed down. ...

The highway will be the largest recipient of funds from the most recent Wyoming Department of Transportation appropriations, taking $6.5 million of total award valued at $18.8 million spread across nine projects.

The project, won by Mills-based Hedquist Construction, will install seven passing lanes between Bill and Wright. Four will be for northbound traffic, while three cater to people driving south. A WYDOT proposal initially asked for $54.8 million, $22 million of which was set aside for passing lanes on Highway 59.

Officials noted that the Highway 59 modifications have been funded by the higher fuel tax enacted in 2013. The lanes will be in place by Oct. 31, 2016.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2016, 01:47:28 AM by andy3175 »
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