Construction season in Carbon County is officially underway as the Wyoming Department of Transportation has started a multi-year project on Interstate 80 east of Sinclair.

Crews with McGarvin-Moberly Construction Co. started initial bridge work this week on the Wyoming Highway 76 interchange overpass structure near mile markers 221-227.5 on I-80.

Work planned for the structure this summer includes minor bridge repairs, construction of a retaining wall at the bridge corners, approach slab replacement, epoxy overlays and other maintenance and preservation work.

“WYDOT’s overall goal and mission is to provide a safe and effective transportation system, so we look at that in all of our projects,” Jordan Achs, WYDOT District 1 public information specialist said. “This, though, is almost routine work. We have been planning this for the last five or six years.”

Motorists may encounter delays, as traffic lights guide one lane of traffic at a time across the structure. There is also a 12-foot width restriction on Wyoming Highway 76 until the bridge work is completed. Construction activity will start impacting traffic on I-80 as early as March 29, when McGarvin-Moberly crews will start placing barriers and building the interstate crossovers. Once in place, traffic will move in a head-to-head configuration in the westbound lanes while the eastbound lanes are milled and paved. Once paving work in the eastbound lanes is complete, crews will switch the traffic configuration to do the same work on the westbound lanes.

“We look at getting chunks of I-80 done every year just to keep the pavement in good shape, especially with the hard winters we have. This is just a way for us to keep up with the maintenance on I-80,” Achs said.

Later this year, WYDOT will resume work on the Ft. Steele rest area, although that project is independent of the work currently happening on I-80.

“The Ft. Steele project is a (grant funded) winter freight project, and we are working on the rest area to add some truck parking and doing work on the interstate to add a climbing lane,” Achs said. “We haven’t picked that project back up yet, we paused for the winter.”

The rest area was among 10 closed around the state in 2020 as a cost-saving mechanism, but the Fort Steele rest stop was the only one to close while it is expanded instead of closed indefinitely. In fiscal year 2018, WYDOT was awarded a $20 million BUILD grant for the I-80 Winter Freight Improvement Project, which also requires 20 percent state matching funds. Renovation plans for the rest area at Ft. Steele include two truck parking areas, each with about 80 spots. Construction will include truck climbing lanes and the two truck parking areas along I-80 between Laramie and Rawlins. The 2018 grant was approved for the notoriously dangerous section of I-80 to allow for truck parking when the interstate closes.

Officials say that motorists on the interstate near mile markers near mile markers 221-227.5, where work will begin in late March, should adhere to construction zone speed limits and stay alert for traffic shifts into and out of the crossovers. A 16-foot width restriction will be in place for interstate traffic during this project. Project scheduling is subject to change due to weather conditions and material and equipment availability. The project is expected to be complete in early 2022 and has a budget of approximately $7.8 million.

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