Jan 15, 2016

Clean-up of Wind River Canyon crash creating hour-long delays

If you're traveling through Wind River Canyon today or Saturday, you may run into delays of up to an hour, as crews work to remove debris from a Thursday night crash involving a semi-truck.

"The crash happened around 11 p.m. last night in an area called 'Big Windy' inside Wind River Canyon," said Russ Dowdy, Wyoming Department of Transportation maintenance foreman in Thermopolis, in a Friday news release. "It's my understanding the driver of the truck is OK."

The semi-truck, carrying bulk sugar, crashed around 11 p.m. Thursday. Photo courtesy WyDOT
The truck was hauling bulk sugar, Dowdy said.

While most of the semi-truck didn't crash into the Wind River, it is overturned on the steep embankment above the river about 10 miles south of Thermopolis at milepost 121.8 on U.S. Highway 20/Wyo. Highway 789.

"There was no damage to the roadway, but 400-500 feet of guardrail has been destroyed," Dowdy said. "Currently, we've got one-ton pickup trucks with digital message boards located at each (end) of Wind River Canyon, warning motorists of one-hour stop delays while the truck is being towed from the river."

WyDOT said it was possible the delays could continue in Saturday.

Until the guardrail repairs are completed, temporary reduced speed limits of 45 mph and 30 mph will be in effect, according to WyDOT Traffic Engineer Randy Merritt of Basin.

"Once repairs are complete, the speed limit will return to 65 mph," Merritt said.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol is on the scene, but no details of the investigation have been released.

Hundreds of feet of guardrail were destroyed in the crash. Photo courtesy WyDOT
It was snowing Thursday night inside Wind River Canyon and the road was slick. At the time of the crash, WyDOT had one plow truck working inside the canyon. WyDOT was notified of the crash at 11:22 p.m.

A company under contract with WyDOT to repair guardrail has been notified, Dowdy said, and repairs may begin as early as Sunday, depending on the truck towing operation.

"Please slow down through the area, and please drive for the winter conditions inside the canyon," Merritt said. "Please be patient as the truck is being towed from the river bank, and also while repairs are under way. Safety is WyDOT's No. 1 priority. Please slow down."

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