SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commission unanimously approved submission of a Statement of Intent (SOI) to the Transportation Alternatives Program for a “Scenic Turnouts and Overlooks Project” in collaboration with the Sweetwater County Joint Travel and Tourism Board.
In this collaboration between the county and Travel and Tourism, they will be seeking federal funding in hopes of adding turnouts and facilities to the Flaming Gorge – Green River Scenic Byway.
The purpose of TAP funding is to support community-based projects that expand travel choices and enhance the transportation experience by integrating modes and improving the cultural, historic, and environmental aspects of our transportation infrastructure.
Jenissa Meredith, Executive Director of Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism, said that the bypass received All-American Road designation last year. Though some people wondered why this mattered, she explained to the commission that it opens up several funding opportunities.
“This is why it matters,” she said. “We now qualify for these types of funding sources in partnership with the county.”
The proposed project for the Flaming Gorge – Green River Scenic Byway consists of developing two scenic turnouts with possible trails along the byway.
Meredith said the first turnout they want to add is on Highway 530 at the Black Forks. The plan is to offer interpretive signage, provide information on the geology of the area, and possibly add a nature trail walking path and a biking path.
“It’s a great way to get people to pull off and really experience the landscape there and enjoy that view,” Meredith said.
The second project would be to add restroom facilities near Clay Basin on Highway 191. She said this area has a lot of opportunities for development.
“That’s a great stretch of highway without any facilities so it’s a really opportune location for that,” she said.
The TAP grant, if approved, would require a local cash match of 9.51 percent, and must be completed within three years. The estimated cost for both turnouts is $200,000 to $300,000. If approved, the TAP grant would cover 90.49 percent of the cost, which would be anywhere from $180,980 to $271,470. The local match would be between $19,020 to $28,530.
Gene Legerski, Sweetwater County Public Works Director, said that they do not know the exact cost yet as they do not know the exact locations of the turnouts yet. He said that while the area on HWY 530 is on Bureau of Reclamation land, which is a good thing as they encourage these types of projects, there are absolutely no turnouts there. This means they would have to start from scratch when developing the scenic turnout.
The area on HWY 191 already has several turnouts so they wouldn’t have to do as much development to add restroom facilities, he said.
“These actual final locations will have to be determined by WYDOT,” Legerski said.
If the county does not receive this specific grant funding, Meredith said, “there are a number of funding opportunities available”.