WYDOT looks at wildlife crossings on roads south of Jackson
Jackson South Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
by Wyoming Department of Transportation
September 3, 2009
The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), are moving closer to completing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the Jackson South project. The project will improve seven miles of U.S. 26/89/189/191 south of the Town of Jackson, from north of Hoback Junction to the South Park area.
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement was issued for public and agency comment in late January 2009, and a public hearing was held on February 26, 2009 to obtain public input.
One of the issues to rise out of the study and public comments related to wildlife crossings. According to WYDOT District Engineer John Eddins, "Teton County, interest groups, and members of the public asked us to take a harder look at the wildlife crossing issue earlier in the design process than we intended, so we did. We developed some solutions that we believe will help improve safety for both wildlife and motorists."
WYDOT presented their additional engineering options for wildlife crossings at an Interdisciplinary (ID) Team meeting held on August 5, 2009. The ID Team was established at the projectís inception, and has convened 15 times to provide input to FHWA and WYDOT throughout the EIS process. ID Team members include representatives of the U.S. Forest Service, Teton County, Lincoln County, Sublette County, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, WYDOT, FHWA, and local businesses.
At the meeting, WYDOT engineers and wildlife biologists identified locations along the highway where wildlife crossings would be most effective: Game Creek, Flat Creek, South Park Bridge over the Snake River in the north and Snake River Bridge, Horse Creek, and area south of Horse Creek for underpass.
The ID Team also discussed the different options for providing a separated pathway for recreation use. A separated pathway is planned along the west side of the highway from Hoback Junction to the existing Von Gontard Trail. Eddins noted that $250,000 is currently in place for pathway funding. WYDOT is working to obtain an additional $400,000, which would provide a total of $650,000 in federal Surface Transportation Program funds for pathway construction. With Teton Countyís 9.51% match, the total for pathway funds becomes $711,815.
At the ID Team meetingís conclusion, WYDOT announced its intention to move forward with the Combination Alternative concept, which includes five lanes from South Park south, before transitioning to a four-lane then three-lane highway before entering Hoback Junction.
The next steps in the Jackson South EIS process are to complete and distribute the Final EIS for agency and public review. A Record of Decision from FHWA follows, which will complete the EIS process. The project then would move into the final design and construction phases.
For additional information regarding the Jackson South EIS project, please contact Timothy Stark, PE, Environmental Services, Wyoming Dept. of Transportation, 5300 Bishop Boulevard, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82009-3340, phone: 307-777-4379, fax: 307-777-4193; or Jeff Weinstein, Environmental Services, Wyoming Dept. of Transportation, 5300 Bishop Boulevard, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82009-3340, phone: 307-777-4156, fax: 307-777-4193.