From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 28 - October 5, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Progress begins on Barger roads

by Cat Urbigkit

Bob McCarty and Tim Wells of the Barger-area subdivisions spoke with Sublette County Commissioners Tuesday about the health and safety hazards posed by traffic and dust on the private subdivision roads in the area.

McCarty said what the residents want is a speed limit to be imposed, with enforcement of that limit.

Wells said there are over 200 families residing on the 700 lots in Barger’s High Meadow Ranches subdivision. He asked the commission for help in rebuilding Meadowlark Lane and in providing law enforcement on the lane. Wells also asked about the county taking over a few of the main roads in the subdivision as county roads.

Commissioner John Linn said he believes that the road has to be a county road in order for the county to establish and enforce speed limits. McCarty said there may be another method, involving a petition from residents.

Commissioner Bill Cramer said he’s been exploring the idea of creating a second class of county roads. Class One roads would include all current county roads, whether up to county road standards or not.

Other roads could be classified as Class Two. Creation of this class would provide a funding mechanism for road work, as well as allow for speed limits and enforcement.

Cramer said his idea is to create a fund of money to be overseen by a three-person board. This board would accept applications for grant money for work on rural roads in subdivisions. The work would be contracted out and it would not be the responsibility of the county road department to maintain these roads.

Cramer said the landowners in the subdivision would have to have consent for work to be done. Subdivisions would have to apply for Class Two designation and apply for projects (mag, plowing, blade work). The Class Two county road board would make recommendations to the county commission for what projects should be funded from a $1 million fund.

Cramer said while older subdivisions would be eligible to apply for Class Two road status, new subdivisions would need to fall under the county planning and zoning regulations and would not be eligible.

“It’s a tremendous idea and I applaud you on that,” McCarty said of Cramer’s proposal.

Wells said that High Meadow Ranches would certainly support Cramer’s idea.

Commission Chair Betty Fear said this plan sounds more palatable than other ideas.

Linn said he’d never heard the idea until the meeting, and suggested that there are “probably more pitfalls” than is immediately apparent.

Cramer said, “This is a brand new thought,” noting that he is trying to find ways to return tax money to the people of the county, since the county is experiencing such a boom in tax revenue from industrial development.

Linn suggested the commission move forward with addressing the speed limit issue. Linn said if there is a way to do it, with approval of the county attorney, he’d like the county to move ahead with posting and enforcing the speed limit.

McCarty said he would return to the commission in two weeks with an update.

Fear agreed, adding that she’d like to follow up with more discussion on how Cramer’s idea might be implemented.

In other road matters, County Road Superintendent Butch Penton told commissioners that he spoke with the Bureau of Land Management about an alternate access to the Pinedale Anticline that would allow heavy truck traffic to bypass Pinedale. Penton said that his access proposal was pretty well shot down by the BLM, which doesn’t want any new roads established in big game winter range in an area adjacent to the New Fork River in the Mesa Breaks area from Pinedale to Boulder.

Later in the meeting, Mike Miller, an attorney representing the family of the late Jack Richardson, spoke with commissioners about the need to clarify the public’s misunderstanding of a proposal to create a county road across the Richardson ranch, crossing Pine Creek. Miller said that he had spoken with Jack before he passed away and “that would be the last thing he would want.”

Miller said that the Richardsons “have certainly never been in favor and would object” to a road going across the property. Miller said the road would eliminate any further agricultural value of the land” in a very pristine area.

Cramer listened to Miller and then responded, “My reaction is ho-hum.” Cramer said he’s never advocated taking a road through the ranch. Cramer said he spoke with Jack about the idea, and Jack was opposed to it, so the matter was dropped.

Cramer said, “It was not my intent to force a right-of-way.”

Commissioner John Linn said there has been a lot of talk about different ways to alleviate the traffic problems on Tyler Street, and this route south of town was one of the items discussed. Linn said as far as he’s concerned, the issue is over.

Commission Chair Betty Fear said “heavens no” the county isn’t interested in forcing a road through the property.

Linn said the county is no closer to resolving the traffic problem.

Paul Rock of the Town of Pinedale Zoning Board said the town is close to instituting a ban on heavy truck traffic on South Tyler, so that will help to push the issue along.

Judi Adler and other representatives of the Hoback Ranches Subdivision spoke with the commission about the increasing need for a larger, safer place for a parking lot to access the subdivision in the winter.

There are about 22 homes occupied full-time in the winter. The Bridger-Teton National Forest has refused to allow a parking lot inside the fence, so residents park outside the fence along highway right-of-way. But with increasing numbers of people using the access site, it’s become a safety hazard.

Last year, the Forest Service allowed parking inside the fence, but has declined to allow such action for the upcoming winter.

Adler asked the commission to intervene and try to work out some long-term solution.

The commission agreed to ask the U.S. Forest Service to allow parking there this winter, while a long-term solution is being found.

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