West Belt Loop

Vehicles travel along the West Belt Loop bypass in January 2016 west of Casper. The highway was built with access points every half mile to accommodate future development.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

Casper’s West Belt Loop has been honored as a top project in the state by the Wyoming Engineering Society, according to a news release.

The President’s Project of the Year Award honors outstanding engineering or surveying projects that people in the state use and benefit from. The bypass is the result of a decades-long push to divert heavy truck traffic around Casper.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation and AVI Professional Corporation, which did the engineering for the project, submitted the award application.

Wyoming Highway 257, also known as the West Belt Loop Road, links Wyoming Highway 220 to U.S. Highway 20/26. The two-lane route is about 7.5 miles long and features two bridges. The road also offers a view of Casper Mountain.

All told, it cost $336 million – mostly federal money, WYDOT said when the road opened — and was finished in early December, the release said. It opened to traffic in early 2016.

Construction on the bypass began in 2013, when crews worked to grade roadways, build bridges and realign Robertson and Poison Spider roads, the release said. The bed of the road was made from about 3 million cubic yards of material excavated during that time.

The project’s second phase kicked off in late 2014. That’s when concrete surfacing was placed along the roadbed. It also included construction of the Oregon Trail scenic and interpretive parking area, signing and striping and the reconstruction of a small part of U.S. 20/26 to improve drainage.

Discussions about routing heavy truck traffic around the city — away from CY Avenue and Wyoming Boulevard — started in the 1990s. Plans to start work on the bypass in 2009 were delayed when the state faced complications in acquiring the property from area landowners.

Other projects honored by the engineering society include Albany County School District No. 1’s new Laramie High School and a compressed natural gas fueling facility in Laramie County.

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