Harris Bridge Road crossing fix next summer at earliest, commissioners told Tuesday

The Harris Bridge Road crossing over Five Mile Creek was washed out last April. It has been closed since then as county transportation department officials seek a fix. (Ernie Over photo)

By Ernie Over, managing editor, County10.com

(Lander, Wyo.) – For residents in North Pavillion who must take a five mile-long detour around the washed out Harris Bridge Road Crossing, relief could be perhaps another year away. Two 10 foot diameter pipes under the crossing washed out in April due to a cloudburst upstream on Black Mountain and flushing operations of the Midvale Irrigation District that combined to create a flash flood. Debris in the drainage clogged and blocked the pipes, resulting in the washout.

Fremont County Transportation Department Superintendent Dave Pendleton asked the county commissioners Tuesday for direction. Pendleton said he was recommending a design that could withstand a 50-year flood event, but he said it could not constructed until sometime next summer, due to engineering and design requirements. “As an alternative, we could put in smaller pipes and take our chances with another flood,” he said. “That fix could last 15 to 30 years, or we can design a structure to withstand a 100 year flood. I need your direction to proceed.”

Pendleton noted that 100 year flood structures were in place at crossings both upstream and downstream of Harris Bridge Road. “We have them in place on the North Pavillion Road to the West and at the North Portal, Bushwacker and Bass Lake Roads to the East. He said the Tunnel Hill Road Crossing had the 50-year flood structure, the same kind he was recommending here.

Pendlet0n produced a project quote of from $370,000 to $420,000 for the multi-plate arched pipe design, which was provided by James Gores and Associates of Riverton, the firm that designed the Tunnel Hill structure. He said the structure would be 19.5 feet wide by 12.5 feet tall with a base of 110′ sloped upward to the road surface.

Commissioners seemed to be leaning in that direction, but Commissioner Travis Becker wanted to know that if $420,000 was spent on this crossing replacement, what other project would be delayed on the county ‘s list of priority projects. Commissioner Pat Hickerson agreed. “I don’t want this project to scuttle other projects like the Eight Mile Road overlay, for instance,” he said.

Pendleton agreed to research what other impacts would be and report back.

“We can’t accelerate the work and do it this winter because you don’t want to mess with frozen ground. It would be April or so before we could get started on whatever  you decide,” he said.