An emergency rock scaling project will focus on removal of large rocks from a hillside above U.S. 20/Wyoming 789, and it is scheduled to begin Thursday in Wind River Canyon.
The $41,000 rock scaling project, located about 10 miles south of Thermopolis at milepost 121.9, is dependent upon favorable weather, according to Wyoming Department of Transportation area maintenance supervisor Clint Huckfeldt of Thermopolis.
The highway curve where the rocks are located inside Wind River Canyon is known locally as Big Windy; it is the same curve where WYDOT has a live web cam stationed providing real-time information to travelers at www.wyoroad.info.
The rocks were exposed through erosion and associated rockfall during April rain and snow events in Hot Springs and Fremont counties.
GeoStabilization International of Grand Junction, Colo., is the contractor on the rock scaling project. The GSI project involves moving the large rocks to edge of the highway. WYDOT workers will break the large rocks into smaller rocks, and remove and haul the rocks out of the canyon.
Huckfeldt said the project is scheduled to begin Thursday, and it should be complete by Wednesday, May 11. "Travelers should expect delays of up to 20 minutes when the rock scaling project begins," he said.
In the meantime, WYDOT's Thermopolis maintenance crew is working this week in the Big Windy curve area, attempting to clear some recent rockfall so the contractor may access the work area and complete its work. "Traffic delays are expected," Huckfeldt said.
National Weather Service officials in Riverton called Huckfeldt Monday with news about an upcoming storm event this coming weekend. NWS is forecasting weekend rains that could bring 1-2.5 inches of rain to Fremont and Hot Springs counties between Friday and Sunday, May 6-8.
"Rain volumes such as these could cause problems for the contractor and WYDOT," Huckfeldt said. He plans to continue monitoring the weather forecast through the week as it is updated.