May 25, 2023 |
Photo – WYDOT Rotary Plow – by Matt Copeland Bigfoot99
Wyoming 130, the Snowy Range Road, opened for the summer driving season shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday morning.
Drivers should be aware of changing driving conditions.
On Highway 70, through Battle Pass, WYDOT crews fought against 15-foot-tall snow drifts. WYDOT Maintenance Area Supervisor for Rawlins, Saratoga, and Baggs Marty Mayfield said he expects the pass to open this weekend despite the high drifts. Mayfield said the deep snow required plow crews to use a variety of equipment to clear the road.
For the past two years, WYDOT has used specialized tracked vehicles called Snowcats to flatten high drifts before the plows arrived. Mayfield said the lighter Snowcats allowed WYDOT crews to work more quickly.
Mayfield said construction crews have conducted detailed surveys of both the Battle Mountain and Snowy Range passes. The Maintenance Supervisor said the Snowcats use that data to accurately follow the highway and avoid damaging roadside markers.
Mayfield said WYDOT uses the Snowcats to lower the snowpack on the road to around four feet high. He said that is the ideal height for the rotary plows, also known as snow blowers. Once the rotary plows begin working, Mayfield said crews have a method for clearing the roads to minimize ice buildup.
Even with the roads cleared of snow, Mayfield said the mountain pass can still be dangerous. Drifted snow can affect sight distances and ice can pool in certain areas. The Maintenance Supervisor said drivers need to be careful after the roadways open for the season.
Mayfield said Highway 130 would be open soon, if it isn’t open today. The WYDOT Maintenance Area Supervisor said he is confident that Highway 70 will be open by this weekend.