Jennifer Rupp – Ceg Correspondent
WY 34 / Sybille Canyon in Albany County, Wyoming has been the site of three complete reconstruction projects over the last twelve years. Oftedal Construction operated out of its Casper, Wyo., office to lead all three Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) projects, covering 20 mi. (32 km) between Wheatland and Laramie.
The third and final section of work began in April 2011. Approximately 6 mi. (9.7 km) of two-lane roadway received the works — complete reconstruction with horizontal and vertical realignment, and new shoulders.
“WY 34 had horizontal and vertical curve deficiencies,” explained Steve Cook, WYDOT resident engineer of District 1. “The roadtop was only 22-feet wide, and the shoulders were practically non-existent.”
The new and improved stretch of highway boasts 12-ft. (3.6 m) lanes, with 4 ft. (1.2 m) shoulders. Three retaining walls were installed by Bryan Miller Company of Denver, Colo. The walls are a pre-cast component system put in place to protect North Sybille Creek and its inhabitants.
The North Sybille Creek Bridge also received a facelift with a new deck overlay and approach slabs. S&S Builders of Cheyenne were subcontracted for the bridgework.
Precision Drilling, headquartered in Billings, Mont., performed the blasting and rock bolting on all three WY 34 projects.
Oftedal proceeded with grading, placing crushed base and replacing the existing drain pipes. They utilized a Hitachi 850 excavator, five Cat 773 rigid frame trucks, Cat motorgraders and Cat D9 dozers. No specialty equipment was needed for the job.
McGarvin-Moberly Construction, based in Worland, Wyo., finished up with paving, and Wishbone Fencing Company of Aladdin, Wyo., installed an 8-ft. (2.4 m) game fence along the highway.
The Wyoming Game & Fish Department operates the Thorne/Williams Wildlife Research Center of Sybille adjacent to the road project. The Research Center and its surrounding 3,000-plus acres of land serve as a winter range for mule deer and provide the public with recreational hunting and fishing opportunities. Additionally, the Research Center has been home to captive breeding programs for the endangered black-footed ferret and the Wyoming toad.
The WYDOT game fence stretches 3 mi. (4.8 km) to protect the animals of the Research Center which, over the years, have grown to include elk, big horn sheep and buffalo.
Construction crews maintained the flow of traffic by keeping one lane open at all times and employing pilot cars. A thirty-minute delay was put into effect during blasting. The contractors operated one day shift, which included weekends.
This metric job required 402,848 cu. yds. (308,000 cu m) of balanced earthwork, and 27,558 tons (25,000 t) of asphalt paving.
“The most difficult part of the job was working in the tight conditions of the Canyon,” noted Cook. “The material was all drill and shoot rock. Fortunately, we learned a lot by working on the previous two segments of WY 34, so there were no surprises here.”
Oftedal’s $10.5 million contract allowed for two construction seasons, but the prime contractor was able to complete the majority of the work in just one. Reclamation and chip seal work will be done this spring, and the job will be complete by June. CEG
Author – Jennifer Rupp