NIOBRARA COUNTY – In 2018, work began on a stretch of U.S. 20 east of Lusk to the Nebraska border that is not only providing a safer driving surface for travelers, it’s putting a fresh face on an old stretch of one of the nation’s oldest highways.
The four-year project is rehabilitating U.S. Hwy. 20 from the Nebraska state line to Lusk. The work goes beyond fresh asphalt; it includes widened travel lanes, shoulders, the addition of turn lanes where appropriate, ditch grading and new delineators
“We hope to achieve a safer, smoother roadway that meets current standards,” said Jim Barnes, WYDOT resident engineer.
“The project will increase the overall width of the roadway by about 10 feet. The existing 1 foot shoulder will be widened to 6 feet. It will have flatter safety shoulders off the pavement. These will improve safety as the highway serves trucks, oversize loads and farm equipment, as well as the usual motorists.”
In the area of Duck Creek, west of Van Tassell, 6 feet of a hill was shaved at the crest to increase sight distance for both directions of travel. A school bus turnaround area was also constructed near McMaster Road.
“This provides a much safer pick up and drop off point,” Barnes said. “We also relocated the McMaster Road intersection to provide a perpendicular intersection with U.S. 20. This will greatly improve safety for those who use this intersection.”
Another improvement, though not unique to this project, is the installation of flexible delineator posts which essentially bend to the ground if they are hit, minimizing damage to vehicles. These replace the old delineators which were mounted on steel posts.
Beyond all of the safety improvements the improved highway offers travelers a new view when crossing the state line.
“They’ll experience an improved highway that more closely resembles the highway east of the line in Nebraska,” Barnes said.
Work on the next phase, between Lusk and milepost 55 will begin this spring. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 31, 2021.