During construction, paving crews worked west of the Mill Creek Housing area on the Wind River Reservation. (WYDOT)
(Wind River Reservation, Wyo.) – A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the 17 Mile Road Partnership Project begins at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the newly-constructed Sand Creek Massacre Trail interpretive turnout southwest of Riverton.
The traditional Native American ceremony will be held about 15.5 miles west of the traffic signal at the intersection of 17 Mile Road (Wyoming 137) and Wyoming 789 south of Riverton, or 5.5 miles east of the intersection of 17 Mile Road and Wyoming 132 (Blue Sky Highway) south of Ethete.
Citizens are invited to attend this event, and a free roast beef feast will be served at the completion of the ceremony.
Speakers scheduled include Central Federal Lands Highway administrators, State of Wyoming officials, tribal leaders, regional and local officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Fremont County commissioners. Other people responsible for this project’s completion will be recognized.
Part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony will include honoring families who have been involved with a loss of life along 17 Mile Road. Citizens who have lost family members on 17 Mile Road and who would like the family member recognized are asked to call the Tribal Transportation Office in Fort Washakie at (307) 335-7669
Some mainline paving remains. (WYDOT)
“The 17 Mile Road Partnership Project is nearly complete,” said John Smith, transportation director for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. “We have some mainline paving to complete. In addition, paving of approaches and mailbox turnouts is also scheduled. A chip seal will be placed on the road early next summer, and then the project will be 100 percent complete.”
17 Mile Road is also known as Fremont County Road 334.
The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes funded completion of the 17 Mile Road Partnership Project with a federal TIGER III grant in November 2011. The $8.23 million grant funded the roadway improvements from the Little Wind River bridge at the east end of the project to Coolidge Canal at the west end of the project. Funding also came from Fremont County, and federal funding through the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Indian Reservation Roads program.
The project was built nearly entirely by tribal workers, who were paid more than $3.7 million in wages for their successful efforts at improving what’s called “the most important road on the Wind River Reservation.”
Prior to being rebuilt, 17 Mile Road was historically called one of the most dangerous roadways in Wyoming. The roadway’s average fatality rate is twice the national average, and over the past 10 years, Smith said 17 Mile Road has had “numerous rollovers, car crashes and encounters with pedestrians and bicycles. This was due to the various safety issues of the roadway, including its narrow width and the absence of roadway shoulders and safety zones, and limited sight distance. As part of this project, a hazardous irrigation ditch in the right-of-way was also piped.”
“It is truly an honor for Wind River Reservation residents, Fremont County, and the Great State of Wyoming to invite your presence at our offering to the public for final completion of the 17 Mile Road Partnership Project,” said Darwin St. Clair, Jr., chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, and Darrell O’Neal, Sr., chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council.
A school bus and other vehicles lined up behind a flagger during the paving portion of the construction. (WYDOT)