Government and Tribal Officials in Wyoming Celebrate Opening of 17 Mile Road Project

AASHTO Journal, 25 October 2013

More than 200 people gathered Tuesday to celebrate the opening of a $43 million roadway project that better links residents to several vital destinations, including schools and tribal governments.

Wyoming Department of Transportation recently updated a roadway connection on the Wind River Reservation in the central portion of the state. Work on the roadway included a full reconstruction that doubled the width of the roadway, fence installation to keep livestock out of traffic, updating the drainage system around the roadway, and new roadway lighting at critical intersections, all in the name of safety. The original highway was built in 1930.

WYDOT Chief Engineer Delbert McOmie said that the highway had twice the state average of vehicle and pedestrian fatalities, while also holding highest pedestrian fatality rate of any Native American reservation highway in the country.

“With traffic counts here approaching 2,000 vehicles a day, it was time for a modern road for modern transportation,” McOmie said in a statement.

Rebuilding 17 Mile Road generated an estimated $160 million impact on the Wind River Reservation since its start. It has employed hundreds of reservation workers, promoted tribal employment, and improved safety.

“It is a good thing that this road is now safe for our Indian people and others,” said Eastern Shoshone Business Council Chairman Darwin St. Clair, Jr. “This project has brought together many partners, and that shows when we come together we get great things done. It’s quite a smooth ride.”

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