Storm repairs underway

GOSHEN COUNTY – Hail and rain filled the almost dry creek beds causing them to over run their banks and pile up debris under the bridges. Superintendent Jerry Hort gave his report about the damage to roads and bridges in Northern Goshen County near the historical site of Jay Em and the south around Hawk Reservoir from the storm on May18. 

“We are maintaining not every road is in real good shape. We have approximately 80 miles that is tore up bad. We did fix County Line Road it was completely washed out,” Hort said.

 What the county is trying to do is make them passable and not fix the roads at this time, which could take all summer. Working on the bridges the county did get the wing walls completely rotated around with the use of a privately-owned track hoe. The county was not able to do it with their equipment.

There is a lot of work to do on the bridges yet, Hort said. Finding somewhere to haul the fallen trees to be burned. 

“There is close to a hundred truck loads (of downed trees) under just one bridge,” he said. “We had roots and all come down the creek. 

“We will have to cut a lot of them up to even get them loaded,” Hort said. “It will be a big effort up there in the north county.” 

They did have some damage in the south part of the county, with washouts in the Four Corners area. But Hort believes they have that area repaired. 

Significant cleanup and repairs are also required on Hawk Springs Reservoir. Hort said the county operator there has been sick, possibly from some kind of spider bite. 

“I will be going down to run the equipment and get that cleaned up. Road 28 is washed out again. So is Road 32 with ruts about a foot and a half deep,” Hort said. “It is a very dangerous road because they are not in a straight line.”

Hort will be making a request to rehire an operator who left. 

Hort said, “He was also our mechanic. Doing repairs and maintenance, with him gone repairs will cost more.” 

The bridges and roads hit the hardest are Harris Ranch Road, the bridge in Jay Em and the bridge on County Road 136. Pipeline road is still closed and is completely underwater and up by Hoyes on County Line Road, Hort reported. He talked with the state inspectors and said the Harris Ranch Road was had seven and a half foot of scourer (removal of soil or rock by swift moving water) was washed out from under the bridge. 

“We have a lot of work to do on the bridges to get them passable. Some are scoured up to the head walls,” Hort said. “The state is going to request that we put in some kind of small rock, building it up on the wing wall. This part will take a lot of man power because it is all by hand.”

The pillars and supports on the Jay Em bridge are in good shape. As to the bridge on county road 136, the wing walls were cemented in and the water scoured about three and a half feet below the cement, Hort said. It had riprap made out of boulders to protect the bridge. Hort found them 600 feet down stream. After the storm there was a five-foot drift of hail found across one of the bridges. Hort said residents needing to use these road ways should exercise extreme caution.

The County is in the process of a road classification project to determine the legal status of some roads. Whether they have been petitioned properly to make sure that they are getting the proper maintenance. 

 “We have six roads that we are working on that have that problem they need to be vacated or created,” Bob Taylor said. “We are maintaining and taking care of these road that are not county roads this has been a problem for years.” 

The county has the money but still needs to research and collate the information and determine the legal descriptions. 

“Looking at the legality we have 20 percent that are not where they should be, being moved or shifted,” said Taylor. “One road in the northeast of the county – it has been moved about a half a mile.” 

The County is going to start looking into the problem, Taylor said. 

“It is time to put a stop to maintaining roads that are not county roads,” he said. “What can happen is that, if we maintain a road and the railroad starts using it and it washes out, we have an obligation to fix it so they can get out. This becomes a liability problem.”

In other business:

The Commissioners then heard reports form the Emergency Manager and Fire Warden and concluded with the Weed and Pest yearly funding request. 

Bill Law Torrington Fire Chief spoke about attending the Fallen Firefighters Memorial.

Three firefighters – Chuck Kenyon, Dennis Estes and Fire Chief Bill Law – attended the Fallen Firefighter Memorial service held in Riverton. All three were pressed into service that was very meaningful. Law and Kenyon set the wreath, while Estes served in the honor guard, with details for the state flag, national flag and the firefighter flag. 

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) was the keynote speaker for the service. Also in attendance were many state and local officials. Five names were added to the memorial this year, with four of the five were in the line of duty deaths, cancer related deaths. 

 “It used to be when you were fighting fire, you had to worry about the smoke from burning wood. Today there are so many chemicals in a house fire which is becoming an issue,” Law said. “There were five names put on the memorial and there were around 50 family members there, it was a very inspiring and moving event.”


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