The further widening of South Highway 89 — from Munger Mountain Elementary School to Hoback Junction — is the most expensive project in the history of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, spokesperson Stephanie Harsha has confirmed.
WYDOT recently hired Casper’s Oftedal Construction Inc. to perform the work for $67,484,899. That beat out the previous project to hold the statewide title of WYDOT’s costliest: the reconstruction of Togwotee Pass, completed in 2012 for $65 million, Harsha said. That total cost was about 26% over the projected budget.
The 3.5-mile highway expansion to five lanes is the second phase of widening for South Highway 89. The first phase was the widening of the four miles from South Park Loop to the Munger school. That initial portion of the project cost $33 million and is set to wrap up this month.
WYDOT resident engineer Bob Hammond said the cost for the second phase of Highway 89 is high in part just because it’s generally not cheap to work in Jackson Hole.
“It’s expensive to do work here in Teton County because the contractor can’t really hire a local workforce,” he said.
There are also several elements involved that add up. Fixing two landslides, replacing a large bridge over the Snake River with “difficult access,” wildlife crossings, extensive traffic control and retaining walls each come with a hefty price tag.
The southern section must be completed by July 2022. Hammond suspects drivers won’t see work begin until late summer or fall.