WLC has served as the Town Engineer for the Town of Evansville since 2003, assisting with numerous infrastructure projects. Recently, a long-desired project, the Evansville Secondary Access Road, took a major step forward.
As the Town Engineer, WLC has been involved with the pursuit of a secondary access road from the beginning, with full support from the Evansville Town Council. In 2014, a study was funded by the Business Council investigating secondary access to the town, which considered 14 alternatives. One alternative included the use of the Veterans Cemetery Bridge. Over the past several years, and through many discussions with the Wyoming Veterans Commission, the Town has obtained their permission to utilize the Veteran’s Cemetery Bridge for secondary access in and out of the Town of Evansville, saving over $3.1 million in roadway and bridge construction costs.
The secondary access road via the Veteran’s Cemetery Bridge, cannot be blocked by the BNSF mainline, the main need for an alternative route. At this point. the access road will be gravel through the portion on State Lands, though the section on City of Casper lands will be paved. To fund the project, WLC wrote and secured the Wyoming Business Council’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in 2017. The CDB Grant provided $500,000 of the $975,000 needed complete the gravel phase of the Evansville Secondary Access Road Project. $475,000 is funded through County Consensus Funds distributed in 2018. The Town will continue to seek funding to ultimately get the entire road paved.
Why the need for a secondary access road?
The Evansville Secondary Access Road is an important infrastructure project aimed to improve daily life for residents and access for service providers. As the Town of Evansville lies on both the north and the south sides of the BNSF mainline. There are only three access points into the northern portion of Evansville, all of which are at grade crossings of the BNSF Railroad. Approximately 80% of the Town’s population lives north of the rail line, which is also where all local emergency services are located.
On average, there are eight, 100 car trains passing through Evansville per day. Each train takes about six to seven minutes to pass an individual crossing, which results in one or more blocked entrances to Evansville for 50 to 55 minutes per day. Given that the east and west entrances into Evansville are only 3,600 feet apart, all three of the access roads can be blocked simultaneously by a train that passes through Evansville.
Beyond the major inconvenience to residents, emergency response times are negatively impacted by these train delays. In addition, possible derailment, chemical spills or other events could occur, trapping the 80% of residents located north of the mainline.
Today, the project is approximately 90% designed. The Town is currently in negotiations with State Lands for the easement across the State of Wyoming property. WLC anticipates securing the easement this fall and putting the project out to bid this winter for a spring/summer 2021 construction. In addition to securing the easement, WLC will design the road and provide land surveying and construction contract administration.