The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 13 - 11/24/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Committee begins meeting this week
by Rob Shaul
Three-and-a-half months after the first meeting concerning new roads and increased traffic associated with the Pinedale Anticline project, a wide-ranging committee has finally been formed to address these issues.
Members to the committee were named following a meeting in the Pinedale library Tuesday night. Pinedale Town Council member Jeffrey Reising organized the meeting.
The most pressing issue facing the newly formed committee is the use of Tyler Avenue and the Twin Bridges Road leading to the Mesa by traffic supporting the drilling south of town. Mr. Reising cited several concerns about this traffic, including that the Tyler-Pine intersection is a school crossing, sight-distance concerns, noise control, vehicles backing away from the courthouse and library, road damage from the weight of the large trucks, and the possible need for a stop or caution light for the traffic.
One concern raised by the audience was the narrowness of the Twin Bridges Road and safety concerns with large trucks using it. County Road & Bridge Supervisor verified that the Twin Bridges Road was "narrow in spots" and not up to the county road standards. The county typically brings its roads up to standards when they're serviced for regular maintenance.
Another suggestion was that there be different speed limits for light vehicles and heavy trucks. County Commissioner Gordon Johnston said this would be difficult to enforce.
Pinedale Anticline Project Manager Bill McMahan noted that a new access to the northern end of the Mesa could not be built until next summer. He said one option would be to plow the Mesa Road this winter and route truck traffic down the Green River Road and across the Mesa to wells. However, this option would impact mule deer on the winter range.
Mr. Reising concluded the discussion on Tyler by noting that for the foreseeable future, and definitely throughout the winter and early spring, Tyler Avenue will be the main access point to the northern portion of the Mesa for the oil and gas traffic. A representative with Anchutz, which is operating the rigs south of town, said his company wanted to get the Tyler Avenue issue "resolved quickly."
Industrial Site Road
An alternate route to Tyler Avenue that has been proposed is to connect the county's Industrial Site Road, west of Pinedale, to the Mesa Road. The BLM's Fred Roberts discussed this proposal which, if acted upon, couldn't be completed until next summer.
The County Commissioners have asked that any road from the Industrial Site be routed so as to impact with the mule deer winter range as little as possible.
The Game & Fish's Doug McWhirter also attended the meeting. He pointed out that the project will have a life of 30-35 years and the Game & Fish wouldn't necessarily be opposed to new access routes if they concentrated the traffic and eased activity in other areas.
A road leading from Highway 351 (Piney Cutoff) up the spine of the Anticline has also been proposed. The BLM expects most of the drilling activity to be concentrated in a 2-mile wide strip along the Anticline Crest. If so, it would make sense to construct the Anticline Crest Road, which would require a new bridge over the New Fork River and an easement across private land.
The Transportation Committee has members from the various government entities, environmental groups, landowners, ranchers, and others involved with the project. It is an advisory committee only, and can only make recommendations, not decisions. The first organizational meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday. A more thorough issue-oriented meeting is scheduled for the second week in December.
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The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941 Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul email@example.com