AASHTO Journal

WYDOT: New TIGER Grant Clears Way for Final Beartooth Highway Project

The Wyoming Department of Transportation said a new federal TIGER grant will allow the state agency to undertake the last of seven projects to improve the Beartooth Highway (US 212), in a segment that is the only access to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

That project, WYDOT said, "will bring the entire stretch of US 212 up to modern standards and will complete the reconstruction of the full 67-mile length of the highway."

The $16.6 million USDOT grant will help fund a $30.4 million project that extends from milepost 24.5, just west of the Clay Butte Lookout turnoff, to milepost 26.1. WYDOT said the work will include widening the road, improving road surface and drainage, replacing substandard bridges, constructing retaining walls to minimize environmental impacts, adding guardrails and signage, improving shoulders for bicyclists and adding roadside pullouts.

wyologo.jpgThe USDOT grant announcement said the reconstructed segment will include two 12-foot travel lanes and, to accommodate bicyclists, two 3-foot shoulders on each side plus a new bridge to improve road geometry.

"The project enhancements will result in a roadway that will be compatible with current maintenance equipment and practices, including snowplowing and snow storage" the USDOT said.

It added: "The project will provide improved accommodations to a variety of transportation modes and enhance the user experience through increased access to stops on the route including trails, sights, and lakes. The project also provides interpretive areas along the corridor that can be utilized by the traveling public and will include historical, geological and wildlife educational information."

WYDOT said crews are now working on a section of that road between milepost 28.4 to 31.5, in a project officials expect to complete by fall 2018. That project costs $13.8 million and addresses similar issues.

It said the USDOT selected the Beartooth project "based on several criteria including safety, state of good repair, economic competitiveness, quality of life and environmental sustainability. It also selected the Beartooth project based on the innovation of the project and partnerships involved."

"We're pleased that the federal government awarded this grant for this important stretch of road," said WYDOT Director Bill Panos. "This work and these funds are vital to ensure the integrity of the road in years to come."

tiger-inside.jpgWYDOT is part of a Beartooth Steering Committee that includes the Montana Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Yellowstone National Park, U.S. Forest Service, Wyoming and Montana congressional staff and other federal, state and local officials, tourism and community development organizations, and several nongovernmental organizations.

"The planning, design, construction and funding for these series of projects required extensive partnership and coordination," said Gregg Fredrick, WYDOT's chief engineer. "This project wouldn't have been possible without the collaboration of everyone involved. The road is not included in the state highway system, which means a partnership like this is vital to getting this road reconstructed."

Officials used a variety of funds to cover the costs of the seven project, and WYDOT noted that this is the second time it received a TIGER grant for the Beartooth Highway.

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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