LARAMIE – Snowbanks more than 6 feet tall in some areas towered on either side of the Snowy Range Scenic Byway as rotary snowplows pushed through the white wall.
Crews from the Wyoming Department of Transportation have been working since mid- to late April to clear the snow accumulated after the road, U.S. Highway 130, closed for the season Nov. 5.
WYDOT public relations specialist Matt Murphy said crews are working to open the highway by Memorial Day weekend.
Each winter, WYDOT closes U.S. 130 between mile marker 36 near Green Rock trailhead in the east and mile marker 48 above Ryan Park in the west. The highway tops out at around 10,800 feet, and the infrequent travelers across the pass in the winter, paired with the large amount of snowfall in the area, make closing the road more cost-effective than trying to keep it plowed.
Come spring, crews start on each side of the closed roadway – one crew on the Saratoga side, the other on the Centennial end – and plow the snow away until they meet in the middle. The Laramie and Saratoga crews were able to “break through” and met in the middle Wednesday, but additional work is needed to get the road ready for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.
“The breaking point is the county line,” said WYDOT heavy equipment operator Colter Bame, part of the Laramie crew.
The plowing efforts have been on track to be completed on schedule this year, Bame said, despite the snowpack being “higher, definitely, than last year.”
Crews also clear some of the parking lots and turn-around points in the area.