Pinedale Online!

Pinedale on the Web!
Pinedale, Wyoming

Home | Calendar of Events | Photo Gallery | Local Businesses |

Pinedale Online > News > November 2007 > Voluntary 55: Help Save Lives

Squished Truck Cab. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Squished Truck Cab
The cab of a semi-truck involved in a two truck collision on the Green River Bridge in October 2006. The driver survived.

Belly dump on rail. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Belly dump on rail
A wreck on the Green River Bridge in October 2006 caused a belly dump to rest on the bridge guard rail.

Trucks backed up. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Trucks backed up
An accident on the Green River Bridge shut down Highwasy 351 for many hours in October of 2006. Many trucks were backed up on both sides of the bridge waiting for this busy road to reopen. Almost exactly one year later, another similar accident occurred on the same bridge. That accident involved 3 vehicles and 7 people, including 4 children. A mother and 1 child had to be Life-Flighted out to a hospital due to their serious injuries.

Voluntary 55. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Voluntary 55

Over centerline on blind hill. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Over centerline on blind hill
A truck carrying a wide load for the natural gas fields goes over the solid yellow No Passing line as it drives over a blind hill on WYO 351 in early November 2007. The narrow highway does not have paved emergency lanes on the sides, leaving wide loads little room or margin for error when traveling this road.
Voluntary 55: Help Save Lives
by Dawn Ballou, Editor, Pinedale Online!
November 11, 2007

At the Big Piney Town Council meeting last Monday, the Council was discussing the dangerous conditions on Wyoming Highway 351, the cut-off road between US 189 and US 191 between Big Piney and the Sand Draw Industrial Site. This 2-lane highway is narrow along its entire length with no emergency lane pavement on the sides. The daily volume of traffic has increased significantly in recent years due to heavy use by natural-gas related traffic. The entire road is narrow and has seen many accidents and a number of fatalities, but the worst part is the narrow bridge crossing over the Green River. There have been two very serious multi-vehicle accidents over the last 12 months because of collisions on this bridge. A significant volume of the traffic on WYO 351 is large trucks with wide loads which have little clearance in passing two wide on the narrow Green River bridge. The bridge is slated for replacement, but not until 2011.

The Council wondered if it would help if they sent a letter to the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) to see if they would post a slower speed limit, say 50-55 miles per hour, on that bridge. Currently, the road is posted at 65 miles per hour.

Big Piney Mayor Phil Smith, who owns Phil’s Water Service in Marbleton, commented on how tight it can be when two large trucks meet on that narrow bridge, “I know you can slap mirrors on trucks going across it,” he said. He then went on to comment that it has become so bad he has had conversations with some of the oil companies about it. As his part toward a solution, he said his water service company has made it a policy of 55 miles per hour on 351. “Maybe 10 to 15 miles an hour might save a few lives,” he said.

I came away from that meeting thinking Mayor Smith may have a real good immediate solution to help make that road a little bit safer for those of us who drive the 351 gauntlet every day. WYDOT does a great job, but they simply have too many other priorities, and work at slow government speeds, to get a bridge replacement or major road widening project into their queue for Highway 351 anytime in the near future.

We need to do something now. The last major wreck on the Green River Bridge last month included a vehicle with four children inside. Fortunately, no one was killed, but a mother and one child had to be life-flighted to a hospital due to the serious nature of their injuries.

We don’t have to wait for WYDOT to widen the road or replace the bridge. Why don’t we as citizens take it upon ourselves to make Highway 351 safer? Could the answer to the problem be so simple as to have all us drivers collectively SLOW DOWN when driving Highway 351 and don’t push beyond the 65 mph speed limit? When approaching the Green River Bridge, slow it down to 55 or 50 and allow time and room for wider loads to get across as a single lane bridge instead of trying to squeeze two big trucks across at the same time.

If everyone who regularly use WYO 351 collectively makes an effort to reduce the overall speed of traffic on that road, especially on the Green River bridge, it could make a huge difference in making it safer. This kind of a conscious safety effort seems even more important with icy winter roads returning soon.

Voluntary 55: Help Save Lives.

Photos by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!

Related Links
  • Accident shuts down Green River Bridge - (Pinedale Online, October 28, 2007)
  • Two-truck accident closes bridge over Green River - (Pinedale Online, October 18, 2006)
  • Pinedale Online > News > November 2007 > Voluntary 55: Help Save Lives

    Pinedale Online!
    Pinedale Online! PO Box 2250, Pinedale, WY 82941
    Phone: (307) 360-7689 or (307) 276-5699, Fax: (307) 276-5414

    Office Outlet in Pinedale, 43 S. Sublette

    Copyright © 2007 Pinedale Online. All rights reserved.
    Pictures and content cannot be used in whole or part without permission.