(Casper, Wyo.) - The long anticipated trail along Robertson Road will not include a pedestrian Underpass as planned. Both the Platte River Trails Trust (PRTT) and the City of Casper received WYDOT TAP grants to construct a trail along Robertson Road from the Bridge past Oregon Trail School all the way north to the River Heights subdivision.
This project will provide a safe and separate pedestrian and bicycle pathway for the 200 plus new homes in this area. The PRTT project also included a pedestrian underpass to safely carry cyclists, walkers and runners from the west side of Robertson Rd. to the east side (riverside) to allow the pathway to travel along the river corridor and extend north to the River Heights subdivision.
With assistance from WYDOT during the reconstruction of Robertson Road, a double barrel culvert was installed that could carry not only water but also cyclists and pedestrians.
This community safety enhancement project has been in the works for several years and involved partnerships between various entities including WYDOT, the City of Casper, Natrona County and the Platte River Trails.
"We really thought we had a great partnership worked out for this project” said Platte River Trails Trust Executive Director Angela Emery. "We started our planning back in 2009 and reached out to all of the major stakeholders. We’re disappointed that the residents along Robertson Road, and cyclists from across the community, will not be able to use the culvert for safe passage due to stalled negotiations with Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) over a small easement needed to construct an approach to the underpass.”
Rocky Mountain Power was informed about the Trust’s intentions to apply for the WYDOT TAP grant as well as the planned alignment of the trail which travels within the right of way of Robertson Rd. except in the area needed for the approach to the Underpass.
After the grant was awarded RMP informed the Trust that they would be required to purchase a larger parcel of land around the underpass in order to construct the necessary ADA approach.
“We only needed a small easement to construct the approach to the underpass, says Emery, and we were able to write a grant to pay for that easement. We’ve done our best to be good neighbors in this situation and in others with Rocky Mountain Power, including giving them an easement through property we own in 2012 with the expectation that the favor would be returned for the public good on Robertson Road” Emery explained.
After missing three construction seasons the Platte River Trails Trust Board feels negotiations have stalled with Rocky Mountain Power and are now moving forward with a Plan B alignment that will include a street level crossing south of RMP’s sub-station.
“Although the street level crossing isn’t our first choice and is definitely not the safest option on this busy road the Trust doesn’t want to lose our TAP grant funding and feels the residents in this area have waited long enough for a safe place to walk to school and to their home so we’re going forward with a Plan B trail alignment” says Emery.