The Wyoming Transportation Commission has awarded a contract for the project that looks to make Highway 59 near Wright safer.
Riverside Contracting, a Missoula, Montana-based company was awarded a $14.6 million contract to widen six miles of Highway 59 outside of Wright. The project will take the area from a two-lane highway with occasional left-turn lanes to four lanes across with a continuous center turn lane.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation's Newcastle Resident Engineer John Leahy said the goal is to improve traffic flow and safety on the busy highway.
"It will definitely help alleviate the traffic issues there. At least from what I've noticed just in going down there and setting up some of the preliminary stuff. There's definitely increased traffic on [Highway] 59 now compared to just a few years ago," he said.
The highway between Douglas and Gillette has seen increased traffic in the past several years due in part to oil and gas production.
Leahy said the additional lanes will help drivers who are either passing through or turning off.
"That allows through-traffic to use the inside lane. And then all your turning traffic that's going to Wright, west on WY-387 or eastbound on WY-450 to use those outside lanes," he said.
The project is part of WYDOT's 2020 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and has been in the works since 2016.
Leahy said WY-DOT has not yet received the schedule for construction, but he anticipates it will begin in March or April of 2020. Most of the road work should be complete by October 31, 2020, with the exception of some additional paving that must be scheduled during warmer temperatures and a few other additions.
The total completion date for the project June 30, 2021.
Leahy said the road construction will be mostly focused on the shoulders.
"Construction itself should be off to one side or the other throughout the majority of construction, allowing traffic to be carried either in a lane closure or something on the opposite side of the roadway," he said.
Leahy said drivers can anticipate lower speed limits during construction in the day and some shifting of traffic, but there shouldn't be any big delays during major road construction that will likely start in the upcoming spring and end in late October 2020.
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