85 construction begins


LUSK – Coming in from “out North” of Lusk will now involve some wait times as ranchers and residents of northern Niobrara county find themselves in the middle of the 85 resurfacing project zone.

Construction pilons, lights and signs were the first indicator that a project would be occurring and work commenced on July 25. According to drivers, wait times have ranged from three to five minutes. This might not seem long compared to some construction projects in Wyoming but with peak travel season in full swing this can still amount to up to a half mile of backed up traffic at each wait. During the day a pilot car is used to help drivers navigate the one-lane corridor. After hours the lights are utilized to assist drivers with the navigation and try to ensure traffic safety.

Many residents of Niobrara county have taken to social media to muse on the wisdom of embarking on a construction project at this particular location during the three busiest weeks of summer. Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is officially August 5-14 but traffic typically begins 3-4 days prior. Traffic heading to the the rally has historically been an economic booster for Lusk however, the construction being a major factor, there is concern that traffic will re-route either up to I-90 or over into Nebraska before they even make it to Niobrara county. This could also have ramifications for Hot Springs, S.D. and Newcastle since they are the next destinations past Lusk.

Those who find themselves in the middle of construction at their residences in town are even more weary of the delays, dust and frustration to head north. As one individual stated on social media, “The highway has needed work for years, and now they chose to do the construction instead of say, June or September?”

The State of Wyoming Department of Transportation did not respond to requests for information prior to publication of this article. 

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